Dan Cruickshank’s East End society in battle to save Duke of Cambridge

Derelict Duke of Cambridge pub

Derelict Duke of Cambridge pub - Credit: ER/End Preservation Soc

Campaigners have begun a fight to stop developers throwing up tower blocks of flats 12 storeys high which they fear will destroy the Victorian character of a conservation area in London’s East End.

How developers see new Duke of Cambridge

How developers see new Duke of Cambridge - Credit: E/End Preservation Soc

The developers want to pull down a commercial estate behind Cambridge Heath railway station on the Liverpool Street network and replace it with a complex of 230 flats.

How developers see new Duke of Cambridge

How developers see new Duke of Cambridge - Credit: E/End Preservation Soc

The plans now lodged with Tower Hamlets Council involve demolishing the now-derelict Duke of Cambridge pub next to the brick railway arches behind Hackney Road.

The scheme has angered the newly-formed East End Preservation Society launched in November by TV historian Dan Cruickshank.

The society has signed a letter with Save Britain’s Heritage, the Victorian Society and four conservation groups in Spitalfields and Hackney asking the authority to throw the plans out.

“The proposals are over-scaled and destructive,” said a society spokesman. “They pay little attention to the sensitive context of the surrounding conservation area.

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“The application offers well below the council’s recommended threshold for affordable housing—only a handful of flats are more than two bedrooms, despite claiming to be a family housing development.”

The application includes “the crude redevelopment” of the Duke of Cambridge pub and destroys several thriving commercial units, the society adds.

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A public consultation ended last month carried out by Planning for Real, an agency specialising in rejuvenation consultations which was hired by Heath Holdings developers, whose address is listed as a farm in Cheshire.

But Heath Holdings’ project manager Barry Neiman refused to comment.

His planning application, due before Tower Hamlets planners next month, is to “create a busy destination, breathing new life into Bethnal Green, providing a mix of new homes including affordable housing and restoring the derelict Duke of Cambridge to high spec apartments with communal garden and a children’s play area.”

It also promises to be “virtually car free” with only a limited number of disabled car parking spaces and 250 cycle spaces.

But preservationists fear it encroaches on the Hackney Road Conservation Area and insist the Duke of Cambridge should be restored to its former 19th century glory with its distinctive Dutch gable, rather than be “reduced to a shell in this crude design”.

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