Workhouse needs listing

Contact the Council

Mayor John Biggs and his Cabinet agreed on 3 November 2015 to dispose of several council-owned buildings to finance a new Civic Centre at the old London Hospital, to replace the present Town Hall, which has to be vacated by 2020.

Local residents managed to get some protection for the Southern Grove site. The Managing Development Document states that “Development should protect and enhance heritage assets on site and in the surrounding areas, including the workhouse building and the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Conservation Area”. Some of us here in Mile End would like to build on the protection given to both the Workhouse and the "Public Open Space" (not now public due to hoardings). Local listing would be an excellent way to protect this building.

Tower Hamlets have been consulting on the new Local Plan. This will replace both Core Strategy (2010) and Managing Development Document (2013). The first part of the consultation ended on Monday 8th February but they tell us comments can be accepted up to the weekend.


Please Note

The on-line council survey has been closed but I have been assured that comments will be accepted to the end of this week ie Sunday 16th February 2016

There will be further consultation later for the Local Plan. It seems with the council due to leave the present Town Hall by 2020 and several council owned sites up for disposal (including Southern Grove) to fund a new Town Hall.

What The Victorian Society say....

The Victorian Society has been alerted to the proposed sale of this property by Tower Hamlets Borough Council and I am writing to recommend that this building is added to the Council’s Local List of important heritage assets, so that it can be disposed of in a manner befitting of this status.

This is an important Victorian building with an impressive twin gabled central block, complete with its surviving cupola – a pleasing composition which contributes strongly to the townscape and to the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Conservation Area. I refer to Tom Ridge’s attached note for a full description of its significance. This building is unlikely to be worthy of national listing, considering that it is a late example of this building type and it does not survive in its entirety.

Obviously this must not detract from its credentials as a candidate for local listing – this is exactly the sort of high quality, but typical construction that local lists and conservation areas are designed to protect. The former workhouse is highly suitable for conversion and so the retention of the building should not prove to be disadvantageous, rather it would ensure Tower Hamlet’s cherished historic environment remains rich and varied.

Click to view notes

Excerpt from the current Managing Development Document (full Mile End entry here)

Managing Development Document April 2013

Click image to enlarge

Workhouse before hoardings

Workhouse before hoardings

What is the site and surrounding area like?

The site, at the south-east corner of Mile End Road, consists of a vacant council office block. To the west of the site are large brick residential blocks of the Eric and Treby Housing Estate, interspersed with large open spaces. The estate is in the process of being regenerated. The site has terraced houses along its eastern edge and access to the site is from Southern Grove on the western edge.

What are the design principles for the site?

  • ■ Development should respect and be informed by the existing character, scale, height, massing and fine urban grain of the surrounding built environment, specifically to the east and south to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.
  • ■ Walking and cycling connections should be improved to and from the site, specifically to Mile End neighbourhood centre, through the Eric & Treby Estate and along Hamlets Way.
  • ■ The Special Education Needs School should be located in the southern portion of the site to help enable access and visual amenity of the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.
  • ■ Vehicular access to the site should be able to accommodate the requirements of the school.
  • ■ Development should protect and enhance heritage assets on site and in the surrounding areas, including the workhouse building and the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Conservation Area.
  • ■ The Green Grid route should be integrated within the site along Southern Grove.
  • ■ The public realm should be improved at active site edges, specifically along Southern Grove.