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'Oranges and lemons' ring out for a public space at St Clement's

PUBLISHED: 14:34 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 07:51 20 March 2019

Iconic John Denham House with its victorian clock tower landmark in the Mile End Road. Picture: Joe Lord

Iconic John Denham House with its victorian clock tower landmark in the Mile End Road. Picture: Joe Lord

Archant

Families living in St Clement’s housing at Mile End are planning their own “oranges and lemons” demo to secure a community space for public use.

St Clement's householders call for a public community space. Picture: East London Community Land TrustSt Clement's householders call for a public community space. Picture: East London Community Land Trust

They are fetching a giant orange for the Mayor of Tower Hamlets to sign and serving up homemade lemonade to make sure the council sticks to its promise of £1.2million to pay for the space in the iconic John Denham building.

The signing at 5.30 this-evening at the former Victorian workhouse comes with ‘oranges and lemons’ banners.

“A community space was a high priority in the planning consultations back in 2012,” St Clement’s resident Suzanne Gorman explained.

“It was translated into the planning consent—but is now at risk of being forgotten.

Former St Clement's Hospital which closed in 2006. Picture: Joe LordFormer St Clement's Hospital which closed in 2006. Picture: Joe Lord

The idea was always to keep the building as a community hub. This former workhouse needs to be turned into a space for everyone in the area.”

The families join community leaders from the east London branch of Citizens UK civic action network which secured part of St Clement’s site as Britain’s first urban land trust development.

But home buyers subsequently moving in claim the promise of the iconic John Denman building facing the Mile End Road seems to have been forgotten.

One resident, Ruman Ahmed, said: “We were always led to believe it would become a community space, but to think it’s in jeopardy is disappointing. Clearly it’s the most sensible use for the building.

“The council needs to put pressure on developers to make sure it doesn’t become another exclusive private space.”

Negotiations have been going for a year by the East London Community Land Trust with Tower Hamlets Council and the GLA for the funds, after the developers put a £1.5m price tag on the building.

But the trust fears losing the space if its offer isn’t accepted or a commercial buyer gets it first.

Part of the former St Clement’s hospital site owned by the GLA became London’s first land trust following years of campaigning by London Citizens, which set up the trust to create low-cost housing at one end of the six-acre site while the rest went on the open property market.

Turning John Denham House to public use was part of the Tower Hamlets Council’s 2012 planning consent for St Clement’s, which was a psychiatric hospital until it closed in 2006.

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