Save Britain’s Heritage says McAslan’s scheme is “lazy and cynical”
Burrell Foley Fischer and Save Britain’s Heritage have unveiled rival plans for Smithfield General Market after branding John McAslan’s scheme “lazy and cynical”.
The new proposal involves the restoration of the crumbling 19th-century buildings that form the Farringdon Road end of the grand procession of market buildings that make up Smithfield.
The dome and roofs of the general market would be retained, creating a light-filled space which supporters believe would become a cultural and retail hub close to the new Farringdon Crossrail station.
The scheme, drawn up by John Burrell, was commissioned by conservation charity Save which was horrified by McAslan’s proposal, for developer Henderson, to demolish the roof and insert new blocks into the market.
Save president Marcus Binney praised the new proposal for what he called “one of the most important empty historic buildings in London today”.
He said: “The Smithfield quarter, like Covent Garden before it, has come to life thanks to natural regeneration as small businesses have colonised every vacated premise in the streets around the market buildings. This is creating one of central London’s liveliest districts, full of both traditional character and new life.”
Fashion Hub UK has come forward as a substantial investor willing to use the building, designed by Horace Jones, he added.
McAslan replaced KPF after its more radical scheme, for Thornfield Properties, was blocked by then Communities Secretary Hazel Blears in 2008.
In a long and detailed statement issued in response to Save’s proposal, which he said appeared to have been dreamt up in a few weeks, Geoff Harris, director of property development at Henderson Global Investors, accused the charity of mis-representing his scheme.
“We have adopted a balanced and pragmatic attitude to finding a solution to these buildings and it would appear that Save are not willing to consider our proposal with the same degree of pragmatism,” he said.
“Henderson’s custodianship of these buildings, and the proposals that have been made by our team, have been created with care and in a collaborative approach with English Heritage and with the City of London planning authority over the last two and a half years.
“Our proposals are a thorough and legitimate response to the challenges of putting these buildings back into proper long term sustainable use, both in terms of heritage and in terms of the very real issue of commercial sense.”