Hanging in the balance is one of the grandest processions of market buildings in Europe. Directly under threat are the Smithfield General Market buildings, which comprise of three blocks - the General Market, the Annex (formerly the fish market), which is joined to the ‘Red House’ (a cold store) and finally the diminutive lavatory block. These are high quality buildings by a pre-eminent Victorian architect, former City surveyor Horace Jones, built between 1879-1899. They are key buildings in the Smithfield Conservation Area and should be listed. They form part of an enclave of historic buildings unlike any other in the City, retaining a powerful historic and architectural sense of place.
Smithfield is becoming one of London’s major centres. The question of its heritage has never been more important as visitor numbers increase. The site connects the Barbican with Holborn Circus and Fleet Street, while Charterhouse, Hatton Garden, Clerkenwell, Barts and the City all nestle around it. What the City chooses to do with the General Market will set a precedent for the future of the entire market complex. It must be treated as an ensemble, with a complete roofscape rather than broken up piecemeal. Heritage must be at the centre of any new development if it is to serve London and thrive in the long term.
Wake up City planners and Aldermen! Smithfield Market ranks as one of London’s chief public spaces that should be serving the city and its visitors.
Do not allow the gutting of Smithfield General Market!
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