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Museum scheme doubt a lift for Smithfield traders

City’s support for £337m vision at historic meat market uncertain

04 December, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

How the Smithfield Market site could look under the Museum of London vision

MEAT traders this week hit back at attempts to squeeze them out of Smithfield Market after plans to move the Museum of London into some of the historic buildings were thrown into doubt.

Greg Lawrence, chairman of the Smithfield Market Tenants’ Association, told the Tribune there is “no other place in England” his colleagues would like to be, as many who have worked at the site in Farringdon for generations face being moved out.

It comes after a meeting in which the City of London Corporation’s Capital Building Committee reportedly decided to “withdraw its support” for the Poultry Market element of the Museum of London’s £337million plan to take over the Grade II-listed building along with the General Market and Annex buildings.

Butchers want to have access to vacant units Poultry Market again, Mr Lawrence said.

The City, which owns the site, has also drawn up plans to move the meat traders to a former power station in Barking and Dagenham which they will share with displaced New Spitalfields and Billingsgate tenants.

Greg Lawrence

Mr Lawrence, who has worked in the market since he was 16 and is a member of the City’s Court of Common Council, said: “We are absolutely clear about how we feel about the market. All our customers are less than 30 minutes away and there’s no other place in England we would want to be.

“That includes the Poultry Market. It’s in use and any vacant units in the poultry market should be let to meat-trading tenants.”

The five covered buildings that make up Smithfield Market were built in the 19th century.

The current meat traders are mostly concentrated in the two listed buildings known as the East and West Markets, split by the Grand Avenue.

Next to the East and West Markets is the Poultry Market, which burnt down in the 1950s before it was rebuilt.

As the Tribune reported last week, part of the roof collapsed earlier this year and repair work is ongoing.

The Museum of London, currently housed in the Barbican, has claimed it could move into Smithfield within two years.

After approaching the museum for comment, the Tribune was directed to the City.

A City spokesman said: “Earlier this year the Museum of London secured planning permission to move into and transform a part of Smithfield Market. As with many developments in such early stages, conversations with all parties remain ongoing.

“The City of London Corporation remains in full support of a new Museum of London at West Smithfield alongside work to refurbish and reimagine these historic buildings as part of our Markets Co-Location Programme.”

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