Developers Are Planning To Demolish This 18th Century East End Building

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 14 months ago

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Developers Are Planning To Demolish This 18th Century East End Building
Club Row (the pink building)  is a pertinent piece of Spitalfields heritage

"Unbelievable!" That's how Charlie from Huguenots of Spitalfields describes the decision to demolish the house at 3-5 Club Row — built in the 1760s, and pertinent to the history of the East End.

"These were once the homes of hardworking silk weavers, the Huguenots," he tells Londonist. "Factories weren't a thing in the mid-18th century; instead industrious weavers worked in their homes, which were purpose-built for the profession."

Long windows let in light by which to weave; stairs by the front door allowed people upstairs while keeping soot and grime away from valuable fabric; for the same reason there were no doors into the weaving room — just a flat piece of wood at the top of the stairs. There are very few of these dwellings left.

The side of the building

And yet, a developer — PPM Planning — is now proposing to entirely demolish 3-5 Club Row, replacing it with a five-storey building and basement, containing commercial space and three one-bed flats.

You may think that this is where Tower Hamlets Council would step in, but nope. As the Gentle Author — a Spitalfields resident himself — reports, the council took the decision not to locally list 3-5 Club Row, as it's located within a Conservation Area. The trouble is, Conservation Area status does not necessarily protect a building — and Club Row now faces the very real prospect of the wrecking ball.

Drawings from the planning application, listed on the Tower Hamlets website

Rubbing salt in the wounds, the developer has incredulously suggested that although the 18th century building at Club Row adds nothing to the area, their flashy new-build will:

The assessment shows that Nos 3-5 do not make a positive contribution to the area's special character … The proposed replacement scheme will be of a suitably high quality that will enhance the Redchurch St Conservation Area.

Wow. Just wow.

3-5 Club Row's next door neighbour. The 18th century property may soon be replaced with something looking very much like this

Says Charlie, "One in six of us has Huguenot ancestry. They were our first refugees and transformed the skills base in this country."

It's another dark day for Spitalfields, but the battle is not yet lost. As the Gentle Author says, objecting to the plans, directly to Tower Hamlets Council, is the best chance of quashing them.

How to object

Use your own words and add your own personal reasons for opposing the development. Any letters which simply duplicate the same wording will count only as one objection.

1. Quote the application reference: PA/19/00932/A1

2. Give your full name and postal address. You do not need to be a resident of Tower Hamlets or of the United Kingdom to register a comment but unless you give your postal address your objection will be discounted.

3. Be sure to state clearly that you are OBJECTING to the demolition of 3 Club Row.

4. The building is exceptionally rare and significant and should be listed.

5. It is an historic building in a Conservation Area and part of the historic and architectural interest of the area.

6. The replacement scheme is not a worthy replacement.

Where to send your objection

You can register and object by clicking here if you have a UK postcode

Or email

Or send a letter to: Town Planning, Town Hall, Mulberry Place, 5 Clove Crescent, London, E14 2BG

Londonist has approached PPM Planning for comment.

Last Updated 22 May 2019