Residents First

Tower Hamlets People Network

A unanimous vote by Councillors at last night’s Full Council Meeting called on the Mayor of Tower Hamlets to urgently negotiate with Peabody Housing. Also, for Peabody Housing to reconsider their designs to spare the cottages.


The motion was proposed by Councillor Judith Gardiner (Labour) and seconded by Councillor Helal Uddin (Labour).


The motion noted that Peabody has a duty to optimise the amount of housing they provide but also to protect the Borough’s heritage.


Councillor Peter Golds (Conservative) spoke in support on behalf of his group.


Before the motion was put, Councillor Rabina Khan (Lead Member for Housing) responded to the campaign’s earlier presentation saying that the Council endorsed the campaign to keep the two cottages as two much needed affordable family homes and as a living memorial to a unique maternity hospital.


Councillor Khan referred to her member’s enquiry earlier this year, which revealed that Asset Management had sold the former Jewish Maternity Hospital to Peabody on 31 March 2011. She added that she would be writing again to Peabody.


The Campaign’s presentation was given by Melissa Parker, who said that the two cottages were a “vitally important part of the scarce built evidence of the Jewish East End, and of the fact that the East End is renowned as a historic point of arrival for migrants from all over the world”.


In answer to a question from Councillor Bill Turner (Labour), Tom Ridge explained that Peabody’s architects had produced an option 3, which retained the two cottages but would only provide 26 rather than 33 homes. Peabody has said that some or all of the necessary seven homes could be provided in an extra storey on their proposed five-storey block, but that planning officers would not let them.


The campaign thanks all the Councillors for their magnificent support and believes that planning officers have a statutory duty to encourage Peabody to retain the two cottages as “non-designated heritage assets”.


See resume handed out at the meeting

Tom Ridge

30 November 2011


November 30th, 2011

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On Wednesday evening, 9 November 2011, Owen Whalley, Head of Planning and Building Control, met with Cllr. Robina Khan (Lead Member for Housing), Cllr. Alibor Choudhury, and local residents Tom Ridge, Brenda Daley and Melissa Parker. We are grateful to Cllrs. Khan and Choudhury for arranging the meeting and to Owen Whalley for agreeing to meet us. Following a review of events since 2008, Owen confirmed that he and his colleagues are dealing with the four buildings on Underwood Road as non-designated heritage assets. It was agreed that various letters would be written to Peabody Housing and English Heritage, and that we would meet again on Wednesday, 16 November 2011.


We met with Cllr. Rabina Khan on Wednesday evening, 16 November 2011 and reviewed progress. We are still waiting for the news item on the Council’s website to be suitably amended. And we are still hoping that Peabody Housing and the Council will inspect the tarpaulin sheeting over the roofless building to ensure that rain water is drained away from the building.


We understand that Peabody’s architects Brady Mallalieu are redesigning their proposed new building to see if it can incorporate the two ‘cottages’ at 22 and 24 Underwood Road. However, there are still numerous issues to be resolved and we hope that Tower Hamlets Council will continue working with Peabody to ensure the retention and conversion of the two non-designated heritage assets as part of a housing scheme which provides the right balance of housing for rent, shared ownership and sale.

There is also a possibility that after Peabody has met with Cllr. Rabina Khan they will meet with representatives of the Campaign.


On 29th November we are presenting the Peabody Petition to the full meeting of Tower Hamlets Council. So far about 650 people have signed the petition (including hard copies). To achieve our target of 1000 signatures please encourage more people to sign the onlne petition.


Peabody have recently posted a link on their website claiming to take you to full details of there current proposals. Hardly “full details



18 November 2011

November 19th, 2011

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The Peabody public consultation event at the Osmani Centre on 7 November was well attended by members of the Campaign seeking to save the two ‘cottages’ at the former Jewish Maternity Hospital in Underwood Road. Dr. Sharman Kadish, the Director of Jewish Heritage UK, came all the way from Manchester. Other attendees included Cllr Rabina Khan (Lead Member for Housing) and Cllr. Alibor Choudhury, also Cllrs. Bill Turner and Joshua Peck.


We were also very pleased to meet 86-year-old Stanley Fox from Wembley, who was born in the Jewish Maternity Hospital and has played a key role in the campaign to save the two ‘cottages’. Mr. Fox and local residents Brenda Daley and Melissa Parker, in the presence of Cllrs. Khan and Choudhury, presented our petition to Matthew Bird of Peabody. In addition to online signatures, many local residents and others at the event signed our petition, which now has just over 600 signatures.


Peabody comment forms were also filled in and we suspect that most of them expressed anger at Peabody’s illegal partial demolition of the most attractive and historic of the two ‘cottages’ (see Campaign Newsletter No. 6) and demanded the retention and conversion of the two ‘cottages’.


The demolition contractors were on hand to apologise for starting the demolition before getting clearance from Tower Hamlets Building Control (see Campaign Newsletter 6). It was put to them that, as Angela Brady was going back to the drawing board, it would be helpful for the demolition contractors to leave the ‘cottages’ when they resume demolition. They agreed to do this subject to direction by their client, Peabody Housing. Unfortunately, the officers present were reluctant to give a firm commitment in these matters.


Not surprisingly, Peabody have selected references from English Heritage’s letter of 23 April 2010 which justify their demolition of the only former Jewish maternity hospital in England. Perhaps under Angela Brady’s guidance, they will re-read the letter and find the following statement: “The building (22-28 Underwood Road) has a claim to historic interest, as one of the few surviving buildings relating to the work of Alice Model and as a rare Jewish welfare building in London’s East End.” (see Campaign Newsletter No. 7).


The Campaign also thinks that now that the Council has recognised that the buildings “represent a non-designated heritage asset in accordance with PPS5”, Owen Whalley, Head of Planning, should be instructing Peabody to respect the four heritage assets on Underwood Road and include them in a revised proposed residential redevelopment, as required in the Council’s 2008 planning statement for 22-28 Underwood Road.


Tom Ridge

8 November 2011

Campaign to save the two ‘cottages’ at the former Jewish Maternity Hospital

November 9th, 2011

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English Heritage’ statement about the former Jewish Maternity Hospital not being a unique instance of Jewish welfare provision in the East End was partly based on their incorrect assumption that the listed Albert Stern House in Mile End Road was a ‘hospital and alms houses for Sephardic Jews’. In fact, it was opened in 1913 as an old people’s home. This means that, following the demolition of the London Jewish Hospital (Stepney Green), the former Jewish Maternity Hospital in Underwood Road is the only surviving former Jewish hospital in the East End.


As well as the buildings in Underwood Road, there are only two other ‘instance(s) of Jewish welfare provision in the East End’: –

How it could be

  • the Listed Grade II former old people’s home in Mile End Road, built 1912-13 and now Albert Stern House
  • the Listed Grade II former 1903 Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor in Brune Street, Spitalfield


In addition to these listed early C20 purpose-built examples, there is the existing mid-C20 Stepney Jewish (B’nai B’rith) Club and Settlement in Beaumont Grove. This includes the Alice Model Nursery and an old people’s home. The other ‘instance(s)’ mentioned by English Heritage in connection with Alice Model are three surviving C19 houses: two accommodated her Jewish Day Nursery and the third was used as the Sick Room Helps’ Society maternity nurses’ home from 1906 to 1911. This tall, three-storey terraced house was built ca. 1939 on the London Hospital Estate and is Listed Grade II.


The only purpose-built buildings in Tower Hamlets directly associated with Alice Model are the buildings at 22-28 Underwood Road. Furthermore, this was not a Jewish maternity hospital as stated by Peabody, it is the only surviving former Jewish maternity hospital in England – a fact which was totally ignored by English Heritage.


The four buildings on Underwood Road may well have ‘negligible architectural interest’ for English Heritage. But this does not mean they have little or no architectural interest. They are a unique and attractive group of buildings of sufficient interest to be briefly described in the Pevsner Architectural Guide, London 5: East, page 423.


Just because the buildings are not nationally or locally listed nor in a conservation area does not mean that they do not make a valuable contribution to the character and appearance of the local area and to Tower Hamlets as a whole.


Furthermore, Tower Hamlets Council in its Screening Opinion of 17 October 2011 acknowledges that the buildings ‘represent a non-designated heritage asset in accordance with PPS5’. This constitutes a ‘material planning consideration’ (Planning Policy Statement 5, Introduction para. 5) and means that Tower Hamlets Council must do all in its power to secure the retention of all four buildings on Underwood Road. Especially, as English Heritage stated in its letter of 23 April 2010 that

  • The building (22-28 Underwood Road) has a claim to historic interest, as one of the few surviving buildings relating to the work of Alice Model and as a rare Jewish welfare building in London’s East End.


NB: For further details on non-designated heritage assets, see my second Open Letter to Owen Whalley October 12.


TOM RIDGE 6 November 2011



November 6th, 2011

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JMH_0562_2nd Nov
Despite a written assurance to Dr. Sharman Kadish that they would not start demolition before the public consultation on Monday 7 November, and without submitting a demolition notice to Tower Hamlets Council, Peabody’s contractors have started to demolish the oldest and most attractive of the two ‘cottages’. The entire roof and stepped gable have been removed and machines have started devouring the brick walls behind the scaffolded front walls.


It was obvious that Peabody was doing all in its power to stop any normal democratic ‘debate’ about keeping the two ‘cottages’. But their preemptive and deliberate destruction of the 1911 ‘cottage’ at 24 Underwood Road is an insult to the people of Tower Hamlets and to the memory of all the people associated with the former Jewish Maternity Hospital.


The 1911 ‘cottage’ has lasted 100 years and would have lasted another 100 years, but Peabody has chosen to destroy this attractive and unique little building in the very year of its onehundredth anniversary.


Clearly, Peabody intends by this appalling and illegal act of gross cultural vandalism to make sure that there will be little or no point in our trying to save the ‘cottages’ at their public consultation on Monday 7 November.


However, thanks to Mayor Rahman and Councillors from all four political groups, Owen Whalley wrote to Peabody on 3 November urging them to stop demolition. Peabody’s contractors have stopped work but will resume after Monday 7 November. They will not say when that will be but we suspect that it could be by the end of next week.


We must, therefore, fight on to save the ‘cottages’. Nearly six hundred people have now signed the online petition to keep the two ‘cottages’ and we will present this petition to Peabody on Monday 7 November at about 5.30 pm. Arrangements are also being made for us to present the petition to a full meeting of Tower Hamlets Council on 29 November 2011.


So, even after 7 November, please sign and encourage others to sign the petition for presentation to the Council on 29 November (


Our thanks to all those who have already signed the petition, especially Sir Arnold Wesker (born JMH 1932) and Councillors from all four political groups. Our thanks also to those who have written to Peabody, especially Dr. Sharman Kadish, Director of Jewish Heritage UK; the chairs of the East London History Society and the Jewish East End Celebration Society; Tower Hamlets Councillor Bill Turner, the Secretary of SAVE Britain’s Heritage; and Tower Hamlets Councillor Rabina Khan (Lead Member for Housing).


Please do your best to attend the consultation event at the Osmani Centre, Underwood Road, E1, on Monday 7 November from 3 pm to 7 pm to register your strong support for the retention and conversion of the ‘cottages’ at 22 & 24 Underwood Road:

  • as large family homes for rent, shared ownership or sale
  • as built evidence of the former Jewish Maternity Hospital (the only Jewish maternity hospital in England)
  • as a memorial to the pioneering achievements of Alice Model MBE
  • as a memorial to all the doctors and nurses who worked there and all the people born there between 1911 and ca. 1940.


4 November 2011

November 4th, 2011

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Dear Friends of Jewish Heritage,


Re: ‘Mother Levy’s: The former Jewish Maternity Hospital, 24-6 Underwood Road and Vallance Road, Whitechapel, London, E1


I am writing to ask you to support the campaign to stop the complete demolition of this site that dates from 1911 and was extended in 1927-8 by Jewish architect Ernest Joseph (designer of Shell Mex House on The Strand and of a number of synagogues). Opposition to the demolition was initiated and is being led by veteran campaigner Tom Ridge who lives in the East End.


Apparently, developers The Peabody Trust are already dismantling the building, contrary to a written assurance to me, thus preempting a proper debate at the Public Consultation scheduled for next Monday, 7th November. Their controversial housing proposals, designed by Angela Brady, the new President of the RIBA, will be on display at the Osmani Community Centre in Underwood Road from 3pm to 7pm next Monday. The project architects will be on hand to explain their scheme.


Please support my compromise proposal to save the two attractive cottages on Underwood Road and to have an English Heritage Blue Plaque affixed to the front of the building in commemoration of the work of the Home’s founder, the pioneering Jewish health worker Alice Model. Peabody would then be free to develop the rest of the site for affordable housing for local people in line with their own historic tradition in the East End.


Complete demolition would NOT, as claimed on Peabody’s website (21st October) achieve ‘a balance between the history of the site and the needs of the local community’.


Please support the campaign by:-

1. Signing the online Petition which can be found at

More information is posted on this website including correspondence and Campaign Newsletters plus links to press coverage etc.

2, Attending the Public Consultation next Monday 7th November at the Osmani Community Hall 2, 58 Underwood Road, London, E1 from 3pm to 7pm


Unless there is strong opposition and plenty of publicity, the demolition is looking increasingly likely.

In anticipation, thank you for your support,

Dr Sharman Kadish

Director, Jewish Heritage UK

November 3rd, 2011

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