Public Inquiry Into the Demolition of Smithfield’s Western Market Buildings Closes

News from English Heritage

MarketPublic Inquiry into proposals by developers Thornfield and the Corporation of London to demolish and redevelop the General Market Building in London’s Smithfield Conservation Area will close tomorrow (25 January), after hearing seven weeks of evidence. English Heritage delivered its closing statement today.

In his closing submissions to the Inquiry, English Heritage’s barrister Robert McCracken QC said: “These applications are an attempt by the applicant and the City to drive a bulldozer, preceded by a ball and chain, through national and local heritage policies.”

“This decision will be a test of the Government’s commitment to its heritage policies and a development plan led system of planning. It will also be a test of its commitment to participatory decision making. It will also be a test of its vision. It raises the question of whether the City is in effect, in the belief of which it appears to have acted, a plan free office zone. It is a decision which will be closely watched by landowners and developers. They will not view consents as unique but as a precedent.”

English Heritage Visualisation of Smithfield “If a well funded landowner with a substantial local estate such as the City of London can, with impunity, flagrantly flout national and local policies then local authorities throughout the kingdom, most of whom are subject to far greater financial pressure, will seek to do the same. Developers will seek to make secret agreements of this kind. Landowners will neglect historic buildings in the hope of enjoying similar benefits.”

“There is a great opportunity for regeneration of the kind successfully undertaken in Covent Garden, Spitalfields, Greenwich and Camden Lock. The promoters wish to throw away both our heritage and that opportunity.”  

“If the sought consents and permissions were granted respect for the planning system would be diminished. Economic vitality would be eroded. Quality of life would be damaged.”

“There are times when firm decisions must be made. This is one of them.”

Paddy Pugh, Director of London Region at English Heritage, added: “A great deal of that evidence has focussed on the financial viability of the proposed redevelopment and English Heritage’s demands that the General Market Building be retained and refurbished for new uses. It has now emerged that Thornfield bought the basement car park beneath the General Market Building for £12 million towards the end of last year.”
“These are important matters. The additional £12 million of costs mean that Thornfield’s proposals are not viable. They also make retention and repair of the existing building more financially attractive.  English Heritage is surprised and disappointed that Thornfield and the City Corporation have tried to withhold this information from the Inquiry and Secretary of State.”
“Smithfield is one of London’s most important and characterful Conservation Areas.  It would be a tragedy if Thornfield were allowed to demolish the General Market Building and then leave a vacant site in the heart of the area for the foreseeable future.  Such an attitude to London’s historic environment would be irresponsible, unsustainable and completely unacceptable.”

For more press information, please contact Anya Matthews, English Heritage Corporate Communications, on 020 7973 3372 or

For more information about Smithfield generally, please see our dedicated section at


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One response to “Public Inquiry Into the Demolition of Smithfield’s Western Market Buildings Closes

  1. Pingback: Vidi « Archaeoastronomy

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