Our petition asks Peabody Housing to keep and convert the two cottages at the former Jewish Maternity Hospital in Underwood Road. It has now been signed by people, including Councillors from all four political groups.
The hospital opened in 1911 and was built in stages thanks mainly to the fundraising efforts of Alice Model MBE. It was the only Jewish maternity hospital in England. And, together with only two other surviving former Jewish welfare buildings in Tower Hamlets, it is a vitally important part of the scarce built evidence of the Jewish East End, and of the fact that the East End is renowned as a historic point of arrival for migrants from all over the world.
We are only asking for the two smallest buildings, the cottages at 22 and 24 Underwood Road, to be kept as a proper brick-and-mortar memorial to Alice Model MBE, all the women doctors and maternity nurses who worked there and all the people born there.
About one hundred letters have also been written to Peabody supporting our proposal. Mostly from people born there, but also the Director of Jewish Heritage UK, the Chairs of the East London History Society and the Jewish East End Celebration Society, Cllrs. Bill Turner and Amy Whitelock, the Secretary of SAVE Britain's Heritage and Cllr. Rabina Khan (Lead Member for Housing).
The petition was presented to Peabody at the well-attended public consultation event on 7 November, but has not been acknowledged. Many local residents and others filled in comment forms asking for the cottages to be kept and converted to housing. Angela Brady of Brady Mallalieu Architects agreed to look at the possibility of retaining the two cottages. But Peabody is still determined to demolish all the buildings and build 33 new homes: 9 for sale on the open market, 11 for shared ownership and 13 for affordable rent.
Even though the Council's 2008 Planning Statement for 22-28 Underwood Road states "redevelopment must consider ... the potential to convert the existing building to residential uses".
We therefore appeal to the full Council to endorse our campaign and demand that Peabody Housing modifies their option 3 and keep the two cottages as two much needed affordable family homes, and as a living memorial to a unique maternity hospital.