Smithfield saved!

I’ve just picked up this message from local campaigner and Clerkenwell councillor George Allan, who is a former Chair of the Smithfield Trust.

“I thought you would like to know that the good news that the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government has refused permission to a developer (Thornfield, and the City Corporation) to demolish most of the west end of Smithfield for a series of giant office buildings. Much of the case for this was said to be the need to repair the roof of the railway tunnels under the area. These are the two lovely Victorian market buildings at the Farringdon St end, not the main ones at the bottom of St John St, which are not threatened.

“The scheme had been widely condemned, notably by columnists such as Simon Jenkins. SAVE took the lead in fighting the Corporation’s plans through a lengthy public inquiry. Its press release is attached.

“This is a landmark decision on conservation. The way forward is now likely to be refurbishment with a mix of retail and commercial space.

“Forgive my elation but this is something I have been working to achieve for nearly 20 years! I got the old GLC to designate the area as a Conservation Area at its last-ever meeting in 1986 and because English Heritage refused to list the buildings, their conservation area status was the only thing that saved them!

“I’m off to Smithfield for a glass of champagne this evening!”

They say a week is a long time in politics, but six months is a short time in government… still 20 years is quite a marathon. (Incidentally, George is a marathon runner too….)

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