Stephen Howlett replies to Tom Ridge

Stephen Howlett replies to Tom Ridge. Sent Tuesday  (20/12/12) at 12.15


Dear Mr Ridge


Thank you for your e-mail of 16 December 2011.


Peabody understands that there are many people who would like us to retain the cottages. There are also many others who are supportive of the scheme, particularly those who live closest to the building and will be most affected by our works. Peabody is a charity which has relieved poverty in London throughout its 150-year history. Our interest in the site has always been to provide the maximum amount of affordable homes. This is fundamental to our purpose. As you no doubt know this was the basis on which the Borough agreed to sell us the site.


We have explored a number of options for retaining the existing buildings but none are feasible as they would limit both the number of new homes and the layout of any new residential development. Through retaining the two cottages there would be a loss of seven homes. Six of these homes are 3 or 4-bed family homes with private gardens for social rented tenants. These homes will help alleviate the severe housing shortage in Tower Hamlets and enable families currently living in unsuitable temporary accommodation such as B&Bs and hostels to have a real home. I have written personally to Lord Janner and have explained this position to him.


Alice Model MBE dedicated her life to helping those less fortunate then herself. It is our sincere hope that were she alive to today, she would understand that supporting the needs of some of the poorest people in London must be prioritised above the retention of bricks and mortar. English Heritage has decided that the buildings lack sufficient architectural merit to be retained. It is the social history of the site that is recognised as being significant and the social history that will be celebrated through our completed development. This will be achieved both through our design and the way the history is commemorated but also by virtue of the fact that this neglected site will once again help the local community by providing much-needed affordable homes in Tower Hamlets. In time the new homes we build here will become part of London’s heritage too, and part of the continuing story of this area of the East End.


Peabody is committed to working with the local community to ensure that a sensitive and appropriate memorial is realised. Should you wish to be involved in this process we would welcome your contribution. While I appreciate that a memorial is not the building you would like to keep, there is no substitute for having a place to call home. This is the situation facing many families in London and it is for this reason that the buildings will be demolished.


Kind regards


Stephen Howlett

Stephen Howlett | Chief Executive | Peabody


Above is the response to an email from Tom Ridge on 16th December 2011 (See below)


Subject: Re Former Jewish Maternity Hospital


Dear Mr. Howlett,


Further to the 14 December letter from Dr. Sharman Kadish, and on behalf of the 760 or so signatories to the petition, I formally request that you meet with campaign representatives and Tower Hamlets Council to achieve the amicable settlement, as suggested by the Minister for Tourism and Heritage.


We look forward to meeting you early next week, bearing in mind the unanimous decision by Tower Hamlets Councillors at their full council meeting on 29 November. Also Councillor Rabina Khan’s 1 December letter to you as Lead Member for Housing. And Lord Janner’s 12 December letter to you in support of the Campaign, in which he looks forward to hearing from you that the cottages have been saved.


Would you also, as a matter of extreme urgency, please instruct your demolition contractors to secure the tarpaulin on the cottage at 24 Underwood Road and ensure that rainwater is being shed away from the building. Also, please instruct them to leave the cottages when they resume work.


Yours sincerely,

Tom Ridge
Save Mother Levy’s Campaign

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