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Smithfield Fans Pledge £11m to Counter McAslan Proposal 26.02.14

Eric Reynolds admits backers are not ‘fairy godfathers’

26 February 2014 | By Elizabeth Hopkirk

Eric Reynolds admits backers are not ‘fairy godfathers’

Seven businessmen have pledged more than £10 million towards a rival plan for the redevelopment of Smithfield market after an email whip-round by property entrepreneur Eric Reynolds.

Reynolds read out the names of seven men who offered to “put their money where their mouth is” and bankroll an alternative to that proposed by John McAslan.

“If I can rattle up £11 million in 48 hours from people who know me and whom I know, I believe absolutely that this will fly,” he said.

He admitted the seven were not “fairy godfathers” who would hand over their millions until they had scrutinised the figures but said they were happy to be named as supporters.

They are: Crispin Kelly, chief executive of Baylight Properties (£1m); William Bailey, owner of Planit Events (£1m); property businessman Laurie Marsh (£3m); Sean Collins, MD of Thames Clippers (£500k); lawyer Martin Kramer (£500k); Richard Upton, chief executive of Cathedral Group, who is due to give evidence this week (£2m); entrepreneur Tim Herring (£1m); and Reynolds himself (£2m).

The man behind Camden Lock and Spitalfields markets worked with the Victorian Society, Save Britain’s Heritage and Burrell Foley Fischer Architects on a proposal they hope will stop a £160 million redevelopment designed by John McAslan & Partners for Henderson Global Investors.

The public inquiry centres in part on the viability of this proposal. Reynolds said he was convinced the figures add up.

“The parallels between the two [Spitalfields and Smithfield] are so close… that I’d find it very difficult to imagine a situation in which it wouldn’t work,” he said.

Earlier in the day a Henderson expert witness, Andrew Tyler of Knight Frank, was forced to admit he had miscalculated the loss Reynolds’ scheme would make by £48 million. But it would still make a loss of £22 million, he contended.

Reynolds, founder of Urban Space Management, admitted he had not relied on official RICS methods to arrive at his belief that reusing the buildings as a retail market could be profitable.

“Mr Tyler is supported by experts instructed by his client and I am supported by 40 years’ experience. That takes us to the heart of all this,” he said.

“Mr Tyler can drive any scheme into negative or positive. Spreadsheets can be encouraged to dance or sing but not always the right tune.”

The inquiry is due to finish this Friday.

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