Page last updated at 14:12 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 15:12 UK

Smithfield market plans refused

Image of the proposed development around Smithfield market
Supporters claimied development would revive Smithfield

A part of the historic Smithfield market earmarked for demolition has been saved after planning permission to redevelop the site was refused.

The western part of the meat market in Farringdon, central London, was due to be converted into shops and offices.

The bid involved demolishing the disused 19th Century building, the General Market and other structures.

But Communities Secretary Hazel Blears refused permission saying the proposal would harm the area's character.

Ms Blears said the existing buildings on the site made "a significant contribution" to the character and appearance of Farringdon, including the Smithfield Conservation Area.

Public inquiry

The development was put forward by Thornfield Properties and the City of London.

The plans, which were the subject of a public inquiry, have proved controversial.

Supporters claimed the development would revive Smithfield but opponents suggest it would damage the conservation area and be intrusive.

English Heritage has not listed the General Market Building, but opposed the proposals to demolish it and redevelop the site.

Renovating and reusing

It said it was delighted with the decision.

Chief executive Simon Thurley said: "This decision proves that the historic environment is about much more than just individual listed buildings - this is an acknowledgement of the many unlisted - but not unloved - buildings which collectively create a powerful sense of place and positively contribute to the fabric of the city."

He also said it was inappropriate to demolish the General Market in an era when there was increasing concern about sustainability and said he hoped the City of London would now bring forward plans for renovating and reusing the building.

Smithfield has been home to a meat market for centuries, as well as the site of medieval jousting tournaments and St Bartholomew's fair.

Many of the market's Victorian buildings are listed.

Thornfield Properties said it was "disappointed" by Thursday's decision, adding: "We have been working on this project for more than five years and are committed to carrying it through to planning permission and full development of the site."

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