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TV’s Cruickshank joins Trinity Green almshouses ‘battle of Whitechapel’ over Sainsbury’s skyscraper

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:09 22 November 2016

How Sainsbury's tower block would appear over Trinity Green's historric rooftops

How Sainsbury's tower block would appear over Trinity Green's historric rooftops

Friends of Trinity Green

Veteran campaigner Dan Cruickshank is backing conservationists fighting to stop a tower development that threatens to overshadow Grade I-listed almshouses darting back to 1696.

Historic Trinity Green almshouses dating from 1695Historic Trinity Green almshouses dating from 1695

The TV historian has helped residents of Whitechapel’s Trinity Green put together a campaign video in an 11th hour bid to halt the Sainsbury supermarket chain throwing up a 28-storey block of luxury apartments just 80 yards from the almshouses that would cast a shadow over their homes.

The proposal, part of the Whitechapel regeneration Masterplan after Crossrail opens in 2018, was due to go before Tower Hamlets Council next Tuesday—but now looks likely to be postponed to the New Year.

“The importance of these buildings is recognised by everybody with sensibility,” Cruikshank explains in the film.

Historian Dan Cruickshank's film on Trinity Green almshousesHistorian Dan Cruickshank's film on Trinity Green almshouses

“It is outstanding architectural and historic interest of the greatest importance—so it’s surprising that a scheme is planned to harm their special and rare quality.”

He warns: “The proposal for an array of towers, one of which is 28 stories, will transform the perception of this space. All will be overshadowed under the great shadows of towering architecture.”

The Trinity Green families, meanwhile, plan a major fundraising dinner in the New Year, cooked up by BBC2’s Urban Chef celebrity Oliver Rowe, in the historic chapel at the end of the green which has never been open to the public. The candlelit evening includes a three course meal drawing inspiration from Oliver’s new book, Food for All Seasons.

Campaign organiser Thomas Antoniw and residents of Trinitry GreenCampaign organiser Thomas Antoniw and residents of Trinitry Green

Campaign organiser Thomas Antoniw, 30, told the East London Advertiser: “Sainsbury’s are pushing ahead with their plans that would overshadow our almshouses despite public opposition, despite media coverage and the outcry of all the heritage bodies as well as the 5,700 signatures we’ve got on our petition.

“This is one of only two places in central London where you can actually live in a Grade I-listed building—the other is the Tower of London.

“The developers haven’t taken into account the impact on the environment and its historical buildings—that’s worrying.”

Trinity Green's cat and chapel at the end of his manorTrinity Green's cat and chapel at the end of his manor

Trinity Green was built 320 years ago for “decay’d Masters and Commanders” and are the only remaining 17th century almshouses in inner London. They played a role in starting the national conservation movement in 1895 in a campaign to stop them being demolished.

Friends of Trinity Green oppose any towering development that would dominate the roof-line of the terraced almshouses, in accordance with Historic England guidelines.

The public green has an unspoilt skyline looking west and east. The Sainsbury tower would end all that.

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