Residents First

Tower Hamlets People Network

East End Waterway Group

Special December 2016 Newsletter from Tom Ridge

HELP STOP THE DEMOLITION AND REPLACEMENT OF THE 1855 MAIN BUILDING’S ROOF AND VENTILATION TOWER AT THE FORMER LONDON CHEST HOSPITAL (LISTED GRADE II APRIL 2016)

Compare the existing and proposed front elevations of the main building from Crest Nicholson’s planning application to Tower Hamlets Council (consultation period ends 23 January 2017).




Look at elevations when reading the online petition and background notes.

Please sign the Online petition to Tower Hamlets Council and encourage others to sign ASAP.

ONLINE PETITION

We the undersigned object to PA/16/03342 and PA/16/03343 for the following reasons:

The demolition of the repaired original 17th century country house-style roof (with gentle slopes and several flat tops), and the demolition of the original albeit shortened ventilation tower would result in the unacceptable loss of two external key elements of the 1855 main building, which is the most important part of the Grade II-listed former hospital building.

The supersized new roof is only needed to provide about 12 more flats and with its steep slopes containing two tiers of dormer windows and one long flattish top it would be a grand city-type roof in conflicted juxtaposition with the 17th century country house-style façade; the new higher ventilation tower is only needed so that it can be seen above the taller new roof and, with its three added conjectural features, would also be taller than the existing ventilation tower.

The fake heritage roof and fake heritage ventilation tower would be fundamentally dishonest and totally misleading; and would also be seriously detrimental to the significance of the 17th century country house style façade (the 1855 main buildings; third and only surviving key element) and its positive contribution to the character and appearance of the Victoria Park Conservation Area.

The demolitions and replacements would cause substantial harm to the Grade 2 listed 1855 main building (and its Grade 2 listed 1892 sanitation tower) and harm the Victoria Park Conservation Area; and the substantial harm would not be outweighed by the proposed public and heritage benefits, which are being provided solely to outweigh the “less than substantial harm” caused by the demolition of the Grade 2 listed south wing.

Tower Hamlets Strategic Development Committee should therefore please refuse consent (under NPPF Para 133) or defer its decision to allow the applicant to revise the application to include the retention and proper repair of the repaired original roof and the surviving lower part of the original ventilation tower and its 1934 dome.

Background Notes

depth-of-new-roof-compared-with-old

Existing frontage in blue - wider proposed in black

Roof

The structural engineer’s report states that the roof is “in sound condition”; and, although there have been repairs and replacements “over the life of the building”, it only needs localised repair. The new supersized roof (over the narrow 1855 main building and proposed back addition) is, therefore, only needed to provide a total of 18 flats on two attic floors. Whereas the repaired original roof with localize repairs could provide six flats on one attic floor.

The missing paragraph

Clearly, the Heritage Statement’s claims that “the roof suffered bomb damage and has been largely renovated…” (3.22) and the roof “retains very little of its original fabric” (5.13) are both gross exaggerations. Furthermore, the fact that some of its timbers are not original does not diminish its significance but illustrates its history as a WW2-damaged roof, which was sufficiently substantial for most of its timber roof trusses to survive.

Links below will take you to the petitions

Background Notes (continued)

The roof is not fully described in the list entry description (no.1433870) but this does not mean that it is the least significant part of the Grade 2 listed 1855 main building. The first reason for designation (listing) in the LED is “architectural interest: built to a dignified design in late C17 style”; and as the shallow roof with gentle slopes and a flat top is a characteristic feature of the 17th century country house style, the repaired original roof is a key element and very significant part of the Grade 2 listed 1855 main building.

In the applicant’s design and access statement section 05 it is claimed that the replacement roof “will not harm the listed building, and will enhance its appearance as a composition”. No real evidence is provided in support of the replacement roof’s design, nor the extent to which it “relates to the overall architectural composition”: as required by Historic England in its letter of 5th May 2016 (Heritage Statement pages 70-74). This letter also referred to a replacement roof in “the same style” as the existing roof and the need for a “taller, more steeply pitched roof to complement the architecture of the building”. Clearly, the applicant’s proposed replacement roof is not in the same style as the existing roof and would not complement the architecture of the building.

Ventilation Tower

The ventilation tower is also a key element because it is the largest and the most visible surviving part of the Chest Hospital’s very sophisticated warming and ventilating system. This was designed to create the warm, dry microclimate thought necessary at the time for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis.

The London Chest Hospital and the Brompton Hospital in west London were the only two specialist chest hospitals in England with warming and ventilation systems designed to create a warm, dry microclimate. The first part of the Brompton was built in the 1840s but its first and second warming and ventilation systems were very unsatisfactory, and the second system was replaced by a more satisfactory system in 1876. The unique and highly satisfactory system at the London Chest Hospital remained in use from 1855 to 1918 when hot water radiators were installed.

The structural engineer’s report states that although the ventilation tower has got cracks in the brickwork, it is “not currently in a structurally unstable state”. The cracks could and should be repaired by specialists and the structure reinforced with an inserted steel frame. Retention and repair would be in line with Historic England’s reference to remnants of the original ventilating system illustrating the hospital’s “former role in treating consumption in mid-Victorian London” (letter, 5th May 2016 Heritage Statement pages 70-74).

Furthermore, this letter does not encourage the “reintroduction of the original tower”, as stated on page 32 in the Planning Statement. It encourages “the reinstatement of the missing parts of the central tower above the principal range”. According to the applicant’s design and access statement (section 05), Historic England has agreed to the “reinstatement of the original spire”. As the spire was one of three features removed from the upper part of the original ventilation tower in 1934, it can be assumed that all three are to be reinstated, as also implied by the Heritage benefit “restoration and enhancement of… original ventilation tower” (page 33 Planning Statement). However, an annotation to a fabric removal drawing clearly states “Tower to be removed and replaced with a tower design to match the original tower spire design”. This is backed up by a statement in section 05 of the design and access statement indicating that the new ventilation tower would be “formed on a steel frame with new and reused masonry where appropriate”.

An attempt to justify the demolition of the surviving lower part of the original ventilation tower (and the dome added in 1934) is made at 3.22 in the Heritage Statement, which refers to the “loss of the original ventilation tower”. Clearly, the lower part of the original tower survives and, as part of the history of the Grade 2 listed Hospital building, it is still a key element of special architectural and historic interest. The proposed replica of the original ventilation tower, at a high level, would be a fake and highly visible part of the Chest Hospital’s unique warming and ventilation system; and would not be a genuine illustration of the Hospital’s “former role in treating consumption in mid-Victorian London”. (Historic England letter 5th May 2016; Heritage Statement pages 70-74.)

sanitation_tower

Sanitation Tower

Sanitation Tower

In the developer’s June 2016 public exhibition and website, various demolitions and alterations to the 1892 sanitation tower were presented as “heritage enhancements” supported by Historic England. In fact, Historic England’s 5th May 2016 letter comments on the aesthetic value of the “octagonal north tower”. Fortunately, Crest Nicholson’s planning application indicates that the 1892 sanitation tower will remain more or less intact, and still attached to the northern end of the 1855 main building. It will be “enhanced for residential accommodation and small roof terrace”. The small single-storey, post-mortem room (next to the east of back side of the tower and referred to incorrectly as the chapel) “may house a small amenity space”.

Financial viability

The Financial Viability Assessment (redacted version) concludes that it “is not viable to provide a policy compliant amount of onsite affordable housing, nor is it viable to retain the south wing”. The assessment also states that the 20.1% affordable housing (by habitable room) and the planning obligation pack of £1,501,136 are at the “maximum reasonable level in order to achieve a potentially viable scheme”.

The affordable housing and some or all of the items making up the planning oblicaton pack are in the list of public and heritage benefits which “greatly outweigh the less than substantial harm resulting from the loss of the south wing” (section 6.53 Planning Statement). National Planning Policy Framework paras. 131 and 134 allow developers to argue that only so much of a nationally- listed building can be converted for the development scheme to be financially viable ie “a potentially viable scheme”. This usually means that all their costs have to be met and that there is sufficient profit for them to remain in business during down-turns in the building industry. In the case of the 1855 main building, the proposed five-storey back addition to the narrow three-story main building more than doubles the number of flats; the sale of which would probably meet all the developer’s costs and provide “sufficient profit”. But most if not all of the 18 flats in the new supersized roof would probably be for pure profit.

Bulk of whole scheme

Bulk of whole scheme with only the blue frontage retained from the original

The FVA fails to explain that it is not viable to provide six flats in the repaired original roof. Tower Hamlets Strategic Development Committee, therefore, has a clear duty to refuse consent for the demolition and replacement of the existing roof and the associated demolition and replacement of the existing ventilation tower, both of which make positive contributions to the significance of the Grade 2-listed 1855 main building and the Victoria Park Conservation Area.

A Worthy Memorial

The former London Chest Hospital has been the centerpiece of the Crown’s Victoria Park Estate; and since the 1970’s, it has been the principal named building in the Victoria Park Conservation Area. The now doubly-protected building is to lose its very substantial south wing and it should at least have all its remaining parts properly repaired and adapted as a worthy memorial to the specialist hospital which served the people of North and East London for 160 years. All of the former Brompton Hospital, West London’s Grade II-listed specialist chest hospital, was converted to residential use without its roofs and towers being rebuilt. East London’s Grade II-listed specialist chest hospital, which was the only other hospital of this type built in England, should at least have its main 1855 building converted to residential use without its roof and tower being rebuilt.

WHAT TO DO NEXT

I hope to write my letter of objection in early January and arrange for it to be published in the next East End Waterway Group newsletter. In the meantime, please view the planning applications on the Tower Hamlets Council website http://development.towerhamlets.gov.uk

See especially section 05 in the Design and Access Statement; pages 31-42 in the Planning Statement; pages 44-56 and 70-74 in the Heritage Statement; Drawing no. 15047 PL 1350 existing main building elevation west; and Drawing no. 15047 PL 3350, proposed main building elevation, west).

As many people as possible must please sign the online petitions, but there also need to be as many formal written objections as possible from groups and individuals.

Email development.control@towerhamlets.gov.uk quoting application numbers PA/16/13342 and PA/16/03343 and include your postal address.

This newsletter is therefore being sent to the Victorian Society and all the other relevant amenity societies.

Local tenants’ and residents’ associations must also please send formal written objections (with copies to your councilors). In writing these I hope you will find the online petition and and background notes useful, but you also need to study the planning applications on the Council website.

PLEASE DO YOUR BEST TO SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE: THE COUNCIL WILL ACCEPT COMMENTS ETC AFTER THE DEADLINE OF 23 JANUARY 2017 BUT A MASSIVE IMMEDIATE RESPONSE WILL INTEREST THE MEDIA AND GENERATE MORE SIGNINGS AND FORMAL WRITTEN OBJECTIONS.

Tom Ridge

December 2016


December 27th, 2016

Posted In: Conservation

One Comment

(1st petition)

The demolition of the repaired original 17th century country house-style roof (with gentle slopes and several flat tops), and the demolition of the original albeit shortened ventilation tower would result in the unacceptable loss of two external key elements of the 1855 main building, which is the most important part of the Grade II-listed former hospital building.

The supersized new roof is only needed to provide about 12 more flats and with its steep slopes containing two tiers of dormer windows and one long flattish top it would be a grand city-type roof in conflicted juxtaposition with the 17th century country house-style façade; the new higher ventilation tower is only needed so that it can be seen above the taller new roof and, with its three added conjectural features, would also be taller than the existing ventilation tower.

The fake heritage roof and fake heritage ventilation tower would be fundamentally dishonest and totally misleading; and would also be seriously detrimental to the significance of the 17th century country house style façade (the 1855 main buildings; third and only surviving key element) and its positive contribution to the character and appearance of the Victoria Park Conservation Area.

The demolitions and replacements would cause substantial harm to the Grade 2 listed 1855 main building (and its Grade 2 listed 1892 sanitation tower) and harm the Victoria Park Conservation Area; and the substantial harm would not be outweighed by the proposed public and heritage benefits, which are being provided solely to outweigh the “less than substantial harm” caused by the demolition of the Grade 2 listed south wing.

Tower Hamlets Strategic Development Committee should therefore please refuse consent (under NPPF Para 133) or defer its decision to allow the applicant to revise the application to include the retention and proper repair of the repaired original roof and the surviving lower part of the original ventilation tower and its 1934 dome.

Total number people signed is 376 so far

FORMER LONDON CHEST HOSPITAL PETITION

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277 signatures

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Total number people signed in and near Tower Hamlets = 191 so far

December 25th, 2016

Posted In: Petition

14 Comments

EAST END WATERWAY GROUP

LAST CHANCE TO SAVE THREE HISTORIC GASHOLDERS ON THE WATERWAYS IN TOWER HAMLETS

Bethnal Green

Bethnal Green

Regular readers will know that EEGW has tried and failed to save the No.1 gasholder in Poplar, on the River Lea, and the No.2 gasholders at Bethnal Green, on the Regent’s Canal.

Like all nationally-unlisted gasholders in London they are to be demolished by National Grid; and Tower Hamlets Council (in its emerging Local Plan to 2031) still plans to have open spaces on the cleared sites at Bethnal Green (site allocation 22) and possibly at Poplar (site allocation 20).



As a first step, we have written to the Borough Conservation Officer asking him and his colleagues to save the three gasholders.  We hope that the little No.1 at Poplar will be retained in its entirety in the proposed open space, but at Bethnal Green we envisage the retention of the two gasholder guide frames (on their brick or concrete foundation) only, with the smaller No. 2 guide frame enclosing a playground for young children, and the larger No. 5 guide frame enclosing a multi-pitch.

Attached to our letters are a report about the gasholder at Poplar and a report about the gasholders at Bethnal Green.

The first report explains that the lattice guide frame at Poplar is of particularly strong local interest and that it is the oldest surviving example of its type in England; and that its lower tier of tapering box-lattice girders are the first and only surviving examples of their type in England.

However, the first report failed to mention that the box-lattice principle established at Poplar was subsequently used in box-lattice girders and standards in later lattice guide frames, such as the No.5 at Bethnal Green.

The second report explains that although the column guide frame at Bethnal Green has lost its classical details, it is the most beautiful of all the nationally-listed columnar types in London; also that the columnar guide frame and the lattice guide frame are the only surviving adjacent gasholder guide frames in London which represent the two main types of 19th century gasholder guide frame in London.

However, the second report failed to mention that the lattice guide frame is also a particularly beautiful example of its type; and that the beauty of both complementary gasholder guide frames is enhanced by their reflections in the waters of the Regent’s Canal (both points made in letter to Borough Conservation Officer).

Poplar No1 holder

To help the Borough Conservation Officer and his colleagues save the three historic gasholders, please sign the online petition by 1st January 2017 (for submission on the 2nd January consultation deadline for the emerging Local Plan).

WE THE UNDERSIGNED ASK TOWER HAMLETS COUNCIL TO ADD THREE HISTORIC GASHOLDERS TO THE LOCAL LIST (NO 1 AT POPLAR, NO 2 AND NO 5 AT BETHNAL GREEN); AND ALTER SITE ALLOCATIONS 20 AND 22 IN THE EMERGING LOCAL PLAN TO ENSURE THEIR RETENTION AND INCORPORATION WITHIN PROPOSED OPEN SPACES

Tom Ridge

December 18th, 2016

Posted In: East End Waterway Group, Gasholders

2 Comments

Unfortunately our previous petitions for the Bethnal Green Holder Station (1,494 signatures) and Poplar Holder Station (400 signatures) will not be considered for the emerging local plan - so please consider signing this new petition.
 

LAST CHANCE TO SAVE THREE HISTORIC GASHOLDERS ON THE WATERWAYS IN TOWER HAMLETS

WE THE UNDERSIGNED ASK TOWER HAMLETS COUNCIL TO ADD THREE HISTORIC GASHOLDERS TO THE LOCAL LIST (NO 1 AT POPLAR, NO 2 AND NO 5 AT BETHNAL GREEN); AND ALTER SITE ALLOCATIONS 20 AND 22 IN THE EMERGING LOCAL PLAN TO ENSURE THEIR RETENTION AND INCORPORATION WITHIN PROPOSED OPEN SPACES


petition-graphic


December 18th, 2016

Posted In: East End Waterway Group, Gasholders

20 Comments

AT THE FORMER LONDON CHEST HOSPITAL

Since the Special October Newsletter, a November Supplement has been published, followed by a Post-Script to the November Supplement.

All three have either been e-mailed to you via the East End Waterway Group OR may be viewed on www.residents-first.co.uk. Please read all three and send your email to the four addresses listed below, as soon as possible, as the developers have submitted their planning application to Tower Hamlets and it is likely to be validated shortly.

This is our last chance to persuade the developers, Historic England and Tower Hamlets to

  • address the six bullet points in the November Supplement – before the consultation period starts and all we can do is object
  • give serious consideration to requests for 35% “affordable” housing and other substantial public benefits which you think necessary to outweigh the loss of the south wing of 1865 (at right angles to the south end of the main building of 1855 and facing the eastern end of Bonner Road.

Tom Ridge

7 Shepton Houses

070 89817361

Four email addresses (copy & paste):
owen.whalley@towerhamlets.gov.uk
chairman@historicengland.org.uk
info@londonchesthospital.co.uk
east.end.waterway.group@gmail.com

December 1st, 2016

Posted In: Conservation

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FORMER LONDON CHEST HOSPITAL

1. The developers have recently submitted their planning application to Tower Hamlets. The proposed ten-storey block has been reduced to seven storeys, and the proposed seven-storey blocks are now between five and six storeys. Instead of 395 there are now 340 units. The developers are holding separate meeting with groups and individuals in the locality and further changes may be made during ongoing discussions with Tower Hamlets. The need for emails (on the lines set out in the Special October Newsletter, Special November Supplement, and modified according to this Post-Script (especially paragraphs 3, 4, 5 and 6)) is now greater than ever. Developers, Tower Hamlets and Historic England need to know that there are large numbers of individuals and groups in the locality and elsewhere in London who expect the two retained parts of the listed building to be respected in accordance with the following statement:

2. Protected historic building should be conserved and adapted for new uses. The maximum amount of historic fabric should be retained with the minimum amount of replacement or additional fabric – so that significance is preserved and former uses can still be appreciated. Furthermore, all necessary additions should be designed to sympathise with and not match the protected historic building.

3. The proposed back addition on the main building of 1855 is an unusually massive addition and should only be supported by Historic England and allowed by Tower Hamlets provided that it looks like an addition and has a flat roof to distinguish it from the existing roofs on the main building. These roofs are capable of repair and should not be demolished as they contribute to the significance of the 1855 building.

4. With respect to the adjoining of 1892 (and for the reasons set out in the above statement), Historic England should not support and Tower Hamlets should not allow the various demolitions and extensive alterations which would turn it into a detached ‘feature’ without significance and no sense of original purpose.

5. London’s only other and slightly earlier chest hospital: the Brompton Chest Hospital (Grade II) in West London has been conserved and adapted for residential use. We must ensure that the London Chest Hospital (Grade II) is also treated with the same respect so that the two retained parts of the listed building do not suffer substantial harm to their significance and integrity; and are a proper memorial to the specialist hospital which served the people of north and east London for 160 years.

6. With respect to the substantial provision of genuinely ‘affordable’ housing as a substantial public benefit to outweigh the loss of the south wing, I have been advised that 35% would be a more realistic target than the 50% mentioned in the Supplement.

7. The planning application could be validated in about a week’s time, followed at some time by a 21 day consultation period. As soon as I am able to see the planning application I will write my own letter of objection in the hope that others will follow suit. With the help of others I will also write a petition on heritage issues and a petition on other issues. I hope that the draft petitions will be discussed and agreed at a public meeting in the locality and that there will be paper and online versions.

Tom Ridge

stop-the-blocks-map1

 

December 1st, 2016

Posted In: Conservation

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