Shoreditch residents fight to save historic weavers’ houses from demolition

3-5 Club Row in Shoreditch. Pic: Amanda Wahlqvist

Shoreditch residents are fighting to save two 18th century silk weavers’ houses from demolition after developers put forward a plan to build new flats and shops on the site.

Tower Hamlets Council has received numerous complaints after an application to demolish the houses at 3-5 Club Row was submitted earlier this week.

The Spitalfields Trust has objected to Tower Hamlets Council and recently applied to Historic England for the houses to be listed.

The proposal was received one month after a 200-year-old landmark building in Whitechapel – Tadmans – was demolished.

The developers want to build a five-storey building providing three one-bedroom flats and 82 square metres of commercial space.

Built in the 1760s, 3-5 Club Row is situated off Redchurch Street in London’s tech district of Shoreditch. It is within a Conservation Area, however, not protected against redevelopment.

Conservation Areas are areas with particular historic and architectural interest. In recent years, several buildings in Conservation Areas in and around Shoreditch have been demolished.

On Spitalfields Life, local residents have raised their concerns. One said: “Objection submitted just now. I feel like making a huge banner that screams “LEAVE MY EAST END ALONE!” and go and march up and down in front of the planners/construction people who think that erasing an area’s history is a spiffing wheeze.”

Another said: “Clearly, Tower Hamlets Council do not recognise the importance of these ‘jewels’ in their crown that they allow to be airbrushed out of existence by the stroke of a pen. What is the point of a Conservation area there and do some councils take conservation more seriously that Tower Hamlets?”

3-5 Club Row. Pic: Amanda Wahlqvist

The developer’s – PPM Planning– Heritage Statement argued: “Regards the demolition of the building, the assessment shows that No’s 3-5 do not make a positive contribution to the area’s special character”.

Charlie de Wet, Chair of Huguenots of Spitalfields, told Eastlondonlines: “It is so unfair that even in Conservation Areas, buildings like these are at risk. It is like death of a thousand cuts, it’s a little bit here and a little bit there. And then, all of a sudden, the rich heritage of this area is just being eroded.”

“These buildings have the right to exist, to tell their story. To do all this, for three one-bedroom flats is sad.`’

She continued: “These weavers have played an important role in the history of the East End and it is unbelievable that Tower Hamlets may approve this application to demolish this important house. Once there must have been around 20,000 of these houses and only a handful remain.”

“The Huguenot weavers were refugees and what makes them different from every other refugee in this country is that they were forbidden to leave France. The fact that so many did, under the pain of death and torture, is staggering. They came with nothing, and they had skills the English didn’t have”.

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