Knight Frank slates Smithfield alternative scheme

Out-Law News | 20 Jan 2014 | 4:47 pm | 1 min. read

Knight Frank has said that SAVE Britain's Heritage proposed alternative refurbishment scheme for London's Smithfield market is "economically unviable", in a report that forms part of evidence which Henderson Global Investors (Henderson) is submitting ahead of a public inquiry in February 2014.

SAVE Britain's Heritage and the Victorian Society's proposed scheme "has a number of fundamental flaws in its conception and more importantly finances", Andrew Tyler of Knight Frank said, according to reports by the Times and real estate business Co-Star. He said the group's initiative could lose as much as £20 million.

SAVE Britain's Heritage and the Victorian Society are opposed to Henderson's plans to redevelop the site.

"It is clear that the buildings will require substantial capital expenditure before their re-use, and given their current state, a refurbishment scheme would be entirely unviable," Tyler said, according to Co-Star's report.

Tyler also said that refurbishing the existing structure at Smithfield market would be very challenging and would produce inefficient and fragmented space, which would fail to attract sufficient rental income.

In contrast, Knight Frank concluded that Henderson's proposals "will meet the demands of today's occupiers and will have sound financial dynamics," the report said.

Henderson obtained planning permission from the City of London Corporation for the scheme, called Smithfield Quarter, following its purchase of the disused buildings out of administration in 2010.

Most planning applications are decided locally by the borough or other local planning authority. However, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles used his reserve powers to direct City of London Corporation to refer Henderson's application to him to consider.

The proposals, which involve converting the market into offices, restaurants, shops and a piazza, will now be the subject of a ,public inquiry in February 2014, following t which a planning inspector will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State.

Henderson's scheme is supported by the Government's heritage adviser English Heritage, which states that a scheme with "less or no new development ... would not be financially viable," according to the Co-Star report. The Mayor of London, the Smithfield Market Tenants' Association and the Government's design adviser CABE all also support Henderson's Smithfield Quarter scheme.