Plans by TIAA Henderson Real Estate to regenerate London’s historic Smithfield Market into an office-and-retail development have been blocked by the UK government.
Following a public inquiry prompted by concerns over changes to be made to the Victorian market building, secretary of state for communities and local government Eric Pickles has taken up recommendations to deny the $260m (€191m) redevelopment project.
According to a letter from the Department for Communities and Local Government, “the Secretary of State concludes that the extent of damage that the application would cause to the important heritage assets at Smithfield runs entirely counter to national and policy objectives intended to protect such assets from harm”.
It went on to say that the project would “seriously undermine any economic, social or environmental benefits otherwise arising from the development, such that the proposal would not represent sustainable development.”
A campaign to prevent the development had been supported by a number of celebrities and politicians, as well as organisations including the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, the Council for British Architecture, the Heritage of London Trust and the London Borough of Islington.
Head of development Geoff Harris said TIAA Henderson Real Estate was “surprised and extremely disappointed” with the decision.
He said Pickles had been “influenced by a disingenuous campaign employed by a small minority of objectors”.
“Our scheme was supported by English Heritage, Design Council CABE, the City of London, the Mayor of London and the Smithfield Market Tenants’ Association,” he said.
“Our scheme would have saved and brought back to life these Victorian market buildings that have lain empty for decades and this decision will condemn these disused historic buildings to continued decay and yet further uncertainty.”
TIAA Henderson Real Estate is pursuing a number of development projects in Europe, including 40 Leadenhall Street in London. Nicknamed ‘Gotham City’, the 84,300 sqm mixed-use development in the City will cost $1.5bn to develop.