Smithfields Wins A Reprieve

Great Britain


Conservationists are celebrating a surprising victory after Communities Secretary Eric Pickles threw out a “wholly unacceptable” £160 million scheme to redevelop much of Smithfield Market.

The decision came after a high-profile campaign to halt the proposed scheme, which would have turned the western end of the market into an office, shop and restaurant complex.

It was backed by figures including Alan Bennett and Kristin Scott Thomas, who compared the plan to the destruction of Les Halles market in Paris. In his ruling today Pickles said plans by developer Henderson Global Investors to demolish parts of the market and replace it with office blocks would be of great detriment to the surrounding area. Pickles blamed the City Corporation for the condition of the buildings. His report said: The deteriorated state of the buildings is, at least in part, the result of the history of deliberate neglect.’

Opponents of the scheme presented their own proposal, which would bring the buildings back into use as a Spitalfields-style street market ready to take advantage of Crossrail. Those plans would not involve any demolition. The current empty poultry market buildings were used in the film ‘Skyfall’.

Having already lost so much of the city to glass boxes in which Russian gangsters can park their money, this is very welcome news. The battle won’t end here, of course. But for once someone has recognised that the site, of astonishing historical interest (which I’ll happily go into if anyone’s interested) is of national importance and should be properly dealt with.

7 comments on “Smithfields Wins A Reprieve”

  1. Jo W says:

    Some good news for once!

  2. Stephen Groves says:

    Hi Chris,
    That’s where I work ,the Poultry Market is still in operation and in ‘Skyfall’ the opening scenes of Bond arriving at the Head Quarters was filmed in the rotunda car park opposite the West Market.Just to let you know i’m still collecting your work and have not died .
    all best

  3. Alan Morgan says:


    And yes, go into it. We are interested. All of us. Anyone who isn’t either knows already or really shouldn’t be coming here at all. 😀

  4. jan says:

    Tell em about that fridge place you know the one that could have caused loadsa problems once it was defrosted………nice little building tho

  5. snowy says:

    Don’t count your chickens, just yet. Porky Pickles has his ‘decisions’ regularly over-turned by the High Court.

    This is the person that couldn’t handle a 57 minute commute in to work from his Essex home and thought that the taxpayer should give him a free second house near Westminster.

    [Cynics have very cruelly suggested that it wasn’t the free house he was after, but the free food that came with it!]

  6. Terenzio says:

    Although this is great news they still need to move on with restoring the buildings that have been abandoned and let decay for 15+ years. Last November I walked by the buildings and it was sad to see them so neglected. How much longer will these building stand before they literally start falling down. And they neighborhood could use a helping hand. On a Monday afternoon it was like a morgue. No one about. It felt like the day after Armageddon.

    The one in the gorgeous purple dressing down and lovely velvet slippers. I shall retire to the boudoir to ponder why people insist on tearing down lovely buildings that clearly have not only aesthetic merit, but from an environmental perspective it makes more sense to keep them and renovate/reuse the buildings. Something like 25% of waste we create is from demolition of buildings. Slowly we are destroying our planet with our greed. However, on a more positive note, perhaps they can include workshops in the reimagined General Market building. Not everyone can or wants to work in an office. There are loads of people who are good at making things, but are not given the opportunity to do so.

  7. Helen Martin says:

    Terenzio has a good point.

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