Crunch time for Mother Levy's

By Jessica Elgot, November 24, 2011
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Hopes of preserving the site of the former Jewish Maternity Hospital are focused on a Tower Hamlets Council meeting next week.

Developers Peabody want to demolish the buildings as part of a project for a multi-storey housing association block.

Known as Mother Levy's, the hospital was the birthplace of many well known East End Jews, Arnold Wesker and Lionel Bart among them.

Local historian Tom Ridge has led a campaign against demolition which has attracted 650 signatures for an online petition. Jewish Heritage UK director Dr Sharman Kadish wrote to Peabody chief executive Steve Howlett asking him to consider retaining "the two attractive and well-built cottages" at the front of the site. The company insists this would be unviable.

We need to stop our cultural history being blotted out

Dr Kadish urged community members to back the "heroic efforts of Tom Ridge to stop yet another little bit of our cultural heritage from being blotted out for ever".

She condemned Peabody for starting to dismantle one of the buildings before planning permission had been approved.

After the intervention of Tower Hamlets head of planning Owen Whalley, the work was halted and contractors apologised to the campaigners at a public consultation earlier this month.

At the meeting, Angela Brady from the project's architects, Brady Mallett, promised to look once again into the possibility of retaining the two cottages in the residential scheme.

Dr Kadish is convinced that "hope is not yet lost. It is not the end of the story yet."

    Last updated: 2:56pm, November 24 2011