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Smithfield revamp plans opposed

Proposals to redevelop Smithfield, one of London's oldest markets, were in the balance this week after English Heritage objected to plans to replace a Victorian market building with a new seven-storey structure.
Developer Thornfield Properties insists that the poor condition of railway tunnels running beneath the building made it impossible to retain all of the original structures for the development.

However, at the public inquiry into the multimillion-pound redevelopment, which opened last week, English Heritage claimed that the
1883 General Market Building did not have to be demolished and said the tunnels should be repaired.

"There's been a recent engineering challenge," explained English Heritage director of planning and development Steven Bee. "The buildings were built above railway lines, which were enclosed in a box section, and this box section has not been looked after."

He added: "The developers say that they need to construct a large development to ensure that they have the money to rebuild the box.

However, we would say that it is easier to repair the box and put back the original buildings, as the loadings would be more
in line with what the box was originally designed to."

Six expert witnesses will be putting the case for English Heritage at the inquiry including internationally-renowned architect and masterplanner Sir Terry Farrell. The campaign has gained wide support, including BBC Restoration presenters Ptolemy Dean and Griff Rhys Jones.

Local butchers are also backing the development as they believe that it will uplift the area and protect their future.

The public inquiry is due to run until January 2008.

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