Museum’s move to famous meat market site gets go-ahead
£337m redevelopment wins approval – as plan to relocate historic Smithfield to Dagenham is put forward
26 June, 2020 — By Calum Fraser
An artist’s impression of how the Museum of London will look at the Smithfield meat market site
PLANS to redevelop part of Smithfield market into a museum were given the green light on Monday.
The £337million scheme will see the Museum of London transfer from the Barbican site after approval was granted by the City of London Corporation.
The decision comes as the City submitted plans to relocate Smithfield, New Spitalfields and Billingsgate, three of London’s most famous wholesale food markets, into a 42-acre site in Dagenham. If that move is permitted, the new markets would open by 2026.
A meat market currently continues to operate in the eastern side Smithfield.
As the Tribune previously reported, traders have said that they have been kept in the dark about the City’s plans.
Meat has been traded on the site for almost 1,000 years and the Victorian building was erected 157 years ago. We contacted the Smithfield Tenants’ Association but a spokeswoman said she had no comment to provide.
The site for the new Museum of London covers what was the General Market, Poultry Market and a suite of buildings known as The Annexe which include the Fish Market, Red House and Engine House.
Asif Khan, the architect designing the new museum, said: “In front of the Museum of London Docklands stood a statue of slaver Robert Milligan. Just over a week ago it was removed. The recent protests across the globe for equality and respect of black lives, have called into question how we are taught our history and how then we understand our present.
“It feels we are finally at a turning point, and to design a new museum at this moment, particularly one inside a Victorian market hall, is a great responsibility. It demands from us a vision of how we should shape our future city and citizenry.”
Sharon Ament, director of the Museum of London, said: “The museum will be so much more than what you see today at our existing site.
This is all because the market buildings themselves enable us to create a set of galleries, show spaces, meeting rooms, exhibitions, places to eat, to learn, to meet friends, to work, to delve into London’s past, present and even to imagine possible futures.
“We will open these extraordinary buildings bringing them back into public use, at a time when Londoners are yearning to better understand who we are and how our city has developed. We will reach every single school child in the City and share more of our incredible stories rooted in the London Collection – including the most pertinent issues that Londoners are facing today.”
The museum is set to complete legal agreements with the City before work starts next year.
Alastair Moss, planning committee chairman, said: “The Museum of London’s plans for Smithfield Market represent a fantastic opportunity to sensitively revive these buildings and bring them back into use as an exciting and accessible destination for all of the City’s workers, residents and visitors to enjoy. Along with the promise of being an exceptional attraction in its own right, the museum is expected to bring with it many substantial economic, environmental, cultural and social benefits to the area.”