CAMPAIGN NEWSLETTER NO. 7
PEABODY IS MAKING SELECTIVE REFERENCES TO ENGLISH HERITAGE’S LETTER OF 23 APRIL 2010. THESE REFERENCES ARE REPEATED IN A TOWER HAMLETS COUNCIL NEWS STATEMENT OF 4 NOVEMBER 2011 ABOUT THE FORMER JEWISH MATERNITY HOSPITAL.
THIS STATEMENT PUTS THE REFERENCES IN CONTEXT, OUTLINES THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FOUR BUILDINGS ON UNDERWOOD ROAD AND EXPLAINS WHY TOWER HAMLETS COUNCIL IS OBLIGED UNDER PLANNING POLICY STATEMENT 5 TO DO ALL IN ITS POWER TO SECURE THEIR RETENTION AND CONVERSION.
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’: –
- 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