Bid to save historic rag trade’s Cheviot House from ‘bog standard’ housing

Heritage campaigners in London’s East End last night urged the local authority not to bulldoze a 75-year-old art deco council office building to make way for “bog standard” housing.

They want the almost-empty Cheviot House in Commercial Road, Whitechapel, to be given a makeover for community use.

Local historian Tom Ridge pleaded at Tower Hamlets cabinet meeting to have it locally-listed along with nearby Nelson Street synagogue.

The land is one of the council assets currently being considered for sale to ease the East End’s housing shortage.

He was told by Mayor Rahman: “We have competing demands for housing—any disposal of property assets will be to that effect.”

The steel-framed Cheviot House, with its curved corners and fluted stonework round doorways, has been in council use since 1951.

Its was built in 1937 for Kornberg & Segal textile merchants, which Tom believes is important to the East End’s Jewish rag trade heritage.

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Tom to the Advertiser: “Tower Hamlets is in grip of high volume builders who are only interested in cleared sites—they don’t repair and adapt these magnificent buildings.

“The entire East End is turning into bog standard housing. But Cheviot House and the former London Electricity Board headquarters in Bethnal Green are worth saving.”

Cllr Oliur Rahman denied it was “asset stripping,” yet warned his cabinet colleagues: “People do feel passionate about these buildings, but shouldn’t jump to conclusions that we’re just selling off assets. We are investigating to see if some can be used for the community.”

Campaigners fear bulldozers could soon cut a path for more upmarket developments rather than any badly-needed social housing.