Henderson’s London Smithfield Development Blocked by Govt

Henderson Global Investors Ltd.’s plan to rebuild part of London’s Smithfield Market was blocked by U.K. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, the final arbiter on planning decisions, for failing to adequately protect the 140-year-old property.

The 160 million-pound ($274 million) plan to demolish parts of the market’s buildings to construct offices and shops was “wholly unacceptable,” according to a statement today by the government.

“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,” the government said.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles used his powers to review large developments after Henderson won local-government approval for the project in the City of London financial district in July 2013. The proposals faced objections from heritage groups including The Victorian Society and SAVE Britain’s Heritage for failing to conserve parts of the market.

“Buildings like Smithfield General Market are what make the City such a special place,” Chris Costelloe, director of the Victorian Society, said in an e-mailed statement. “It is now time for the City of London and Henderson to work together to bring forward a conservation-led scheme that will repair and reopen this magnificent complex of buildings.”

Meat Market

While the existing market is more than 140 years old, it's been the site of livestock transactions for more than 800 years, according to the Smithfield website. Its the only wholesale market in the City that’s located on its original site. Henderson planned to build 16,260 square meters (175,000 square feet) of offices and 5,570 square meters of shops.

“We are surprised and extremely disappointed with the decision taken by the secretary of state, which, in our view, has been influenced by a disingenuous campaign employed by a small minority of objectors,” Geoff Harris, head of TIAA Henderson Real Estate, said in an e-mailed statement.

The decision will mean that the market’s disused buildings, which have been empty for decades, will face further decay, Harris said. TIAA Henderson is a joint venture between Henderson Global Investors and TIAA-CREF, a New York-based manager of retirement accounts for teachers.

(Corrects attribution in second paragraph of story published yesterday.)
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