Right now there is a planning battle to decide the future of the historic Smithfields Meat Market. The western side of the market is currently standing derelict and Henderson Global Investors have submitted plans to build shops, cafés and bar’s, changing the historic roof to an office block between two and six storey’s high, creating a raft of new design led offices.
On the other side of the planning battle, Save Britain’s Heritage and the Victorian Society feel that the buildings should remain intact and be converted into artsy shopping spaces along the lines of Camden and Spitalfields markets.
The two sides will be fighting it out today at a public enquiry. Geoff Harris, director of property at Henderson said, “Property development is about vision and to a degree pragmatism. This is a very sad bit of real estate at the moment; these buildings need to play a part in the regeneration of the area.”
The chairman of Save Britain’s Heritage flouts Henderson’s scheme as “needlessly destructive”. He said, “This is about whether the City of London becomes only devoted to office blocks and financial services or whether other activities can survive in the heart of our nation’s capital”.
Nigel Barker, London planning and conservation director at English Heritage has said, “Our question for the planning inspector is, can Save’s proposals deliver a long-term future for the building? They have to be absolutely sure that they can be delivered. It’s hearts and minds against hard economics”.