The citation has been published by the jury which recently presented John Burrell with their Honor Award for Excellence in Designing Public Places for Community, Democratic Dialogue, Health & Equity at the International Making Cities Livable (IMCL) Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. The award recognises Burrell Foley Fischer’s work with organisations such as SAVE Britain’s Heritage and The Spitalfields Trust in proposing alternative viable schemes for Smithfield Market, King’s College Strand and the Norton Folgate Area of Spitalfields.
The jury’s comments are:
'This project to save the historic fabric and vibrant quality of life of a section of London has enormous international significance, especially now, when large scale demolition of swathes of historic cities around the world is accelerating.
The Norton Folgate district was democratically designated a Conservation Area 40 years ago. Mayor Johnson unilaterally swept that aside and declared it available for development. The area is now threatened with wholesale demolition of scores of premises and replacement with over-scaled office slabs and investment properties.
Burrell Foley Fisher’s scheme demonstrates how to holistically protect the area’s rich heritage assets, retain the fine grained urban fabric, and enhance the character of "Place", providing diverse jobs for local people, greatly increasing the housing, including affordable housing, and celebrating the presence, lives and works of Christopher Marlowe, Charles Dickens and Sir John Betjeman in Norton Folgate.
The IMCL jury strongly condemns the undemocratic "taking” of urban districts and public streets by developer-oriented governments that amplify inequality; and supports the protection of fine-grained, diverse, human scale urban fabric, heritage assets, and character of "Place" so admirably demonstrated in Burrell’s proposal for Norton Folgate.'
Further details of the award can be found here.
After three years' work widely disseminating groundbreaking ideas and vivid imagery for a successful Public Inquiry, London’s historic Smithfield Market was saved from being demolished just to make way for a private office building. It will now be restored as a new Museum of London as a fully public building. The success established new conservation case law, valuing character and uses, not just façades.
Elsewhere, on Strand, an alternative strategy for a new public space opposed the demolition of a terrace of historic buildings and shops and the public outcry resulted in King's College withdrawing plans for a single building. There are now plans for the Strand next to King's College and Somerset House to become a new publicly accessible university precinct.
In the case of Norton Folgate, Spitalfields, the planning process and democratic planning decisions were ignored and overruled prompting legal challenges for a Judicial Review. The current threat of the demolition of scores of premises in the historic Norton Folgate district and replacement with six over-scaled office buildings (£100m) by a single organisation is being opposed using viable alternative more enlightened proposals. The community-backed scheme is going through the planning process and returning businesses, new occupiers, and affordable housing providers await the opportunity to return and preserve the scale and vibrant culture of this part of London.