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Campaign to retain last surviving Jewish maternity hospital gets backing

PUBLISHED: 10:01 06 October 2011 | UPDATED: 10:07 06 October 2011

The Jewish Maternity Hospital with the Mother Levy cottages to left, which residents are hoping to retain.

The Jewish Maternity Hospital with the Mother Levy cottages to left, which residents are hoping to retain.

Residents opposing the demolition of the East End's last surviving Jewish hospital have received backing from a leading Jewish heritage figure.

Director of Jewish Heritage UK, Sharman Kadish, this week wrote to the housing association Peabody urging them to rethink their planned demolition of the Jewish Maternity Hospital in Underwood Road, Spitalfields, to make way for a new block of residential flats.

Ms Kadish agrees with English Heritage that the buildings do not merit listing on architectural grounds, but she feels their social historic significance has been overlooked.

Ms Kadish wrote: “Given today’s enormous interest in the social history and heritage of the Jewish East End from heritage groups, tourists and genealogists, we urge you to reconsider the total demolition.”

She puts forward a compromise solution suggesting the “well-built” cottages to the left of the main hospital building are retained, as part of a future social housing development. The cottages could be adapted as a warden’s flat or sold as private residences on the open market, she suggests.

An online petition, www.residents-first.co.uk, to retain an least the cottages have been set up by residents led by historian Tom Ridge.

Peabody, which owns the land, last week notified Tower Hamlets council of the planned demolition and is planning to submit their planning application in October.

Mr Ridge said: “By seeking to demolish all the buildings rather than making the usual planning application for demolition and replacement, Peabody is effectively stopping the retention debate.”

A Peabody spokewoman said: “We will have another consultation event prior to submission of our planning application. We understand this is a sensitive site and we are committed to working with all members of the community in the development of this project.

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