The Museum of London’s relocation has taken another step forward thanks to revised plans for the refurbishment and alteration of its new site at West Smithfield being approved by the City of London Corporation.
Permission for the scheme, which will see the museum move from 150 London Wall in the Barbican where it has been since 1976, was granted in June 2020 and the latest consent is for relatively small changes to part of the original proposals.
The redevelopment will see the partial demolition, refurbishment and extension of the General Market building at 43 Farringdon Street, which became disused after it sustained bomb damage during World War II.
The newer Poultry Market at Charterhouse Street, constructed in the early 1960s, will also be repaired and adapted at basement, ground and first floor levels to also house part of the Museum.
In addition, buildings currently known as the Annexe Site on Snow Hill and Smithfield Street will be transformed for use by the museum and to house offices, shops, food and drink outlets and event and function space. A “triple height canopy above a public realm space” will be added to facilitate this mixture of uses. The scheme’s designers are Stanton Williams.
The update to the application concerned the Poultry Market building, which since July 2000 has been a Grade II listed part of the larger Smithfield complex. The City’s planning officers’ report to its new planning and transport sub-committee explained that an additional consent was required relating to the listed status, which had not been secured in 2020.
“While the proposed works have been dealt with in a careful and skilful way and the scheme has been driven by best conservation practice, there is inevitably some harm to the historic fabric” the report said. It concluded that this would amount to “a medium level of less than substantial harm” accruing from “the comprehensive remodelling of the interior and the loss of clerestory glazing [a high section of a wall containing windows]” which would be “significantly outweighed by the substantive public benefits that the work would secure”.
The report welcomed “the sensitive revival of the market buildings and the public realm, securing a strategic development that offers significant social, economic and environmental benefits including job creation, tourism and income generation”, creating “a visitor attraction that is accessible and inclusive for all, telling the story of London” that represents “an exceptional opportunity for this area of Smithfield”.
The part of the Smithfield hub that still functions as a meat market – officially London Central Markets – is to move to a new site in Dagenham, along with Billingsgate fish market, currently based in Canary Wharf. New Spitalfields fruit and vegetable market, which has operated from a site in Leyton since 1991, is expected to join them at a later date.
The Museum of London intends to open at West Smithfield in 2025 under the new name of The London Museum. It will close to the public on its present site next month, although its Museum of Docklands branch will stay open under its own new name The London Museum Docklands from January.
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