Thornfield dimisses Smithfield speculation

The company behind the proposal to redevelop parts of Smithfield market has refuted claims by the Times that the project will be abandoned due to the credit crunch.

In an article in the Times yesterday (27 October), Angela Jameson wrote that proposals to develop the listed Red House building and the site of the old General Market building at London's historical meat market could finally be abandoned "as Bank of Scotland Corporate, a backer of the project, undergoes retrenchment in its lending to commercial property."

She suggested that in the face of the financial crisis, Thornfield would be "loath to spend millions of pounds appealing against a Secretary of State decision to block the project."

Thornfield chairman Jason Marcus has dismissed these claims, saying that the company continues to progress business as usual with its joint venture partner, Bank of Scotland Corporate.

He said: "Thornfield has a £2billion property development pipeline spread throughout the UK and has a number of major lines of finance already in place, which are more than adequate to continue to progress its projects.

"Thornfield has a very long term legal interest in Smithfield and will not be delaying matters as a result of the current financial climate."

Thornfield's planning application for the disused market buildings was turned down in August by the secretary of state Hazel Blears. The company is currently looking for a way to move the project forward in the light of the decision.

Marcus said: "The project at Smithfield continues to be advanced and active discussions are currently taking place with all the main stakeholders to find an acceptable solution to the future of the site."

Butchers who trade at Smithfield market have always been in favour of the development proposal and held a protest last year over the English Heritage campaign to block it.

Greg Lawrence, chairman of the Smithfield Market Tenants Association, said it was "completely perplexing" that Enlgish Heritage would oppose a development which would "uplift the area and protect the meat market".

The buildings that Thornfield wants to redevelop are not listed and have not been part of the working meat market since 2000.