The Spitalfields Trust wants to buy the Trinity Green Almshouses to stop them falling further into disrepair.
In 2015, author of East London based blog Spitalfields Life reported on the sorry state of the Trinity Green Almshouses in Stepney Green.
After his article was published, the Friends of Trinity Green was formed. Friends of Trinity Green has been an integral part of the challenge to Sainsbury’s plan to build a 50-storey tall block of flats.
Along with trying to block the construction of the tower block, Friends of Trinity Green also raised concerns about the maintenance of the Almshouses with the council. Recently, the Friends of Trinity Green have revisited the site, and have found that nothing has changed.
According to the author of Spitalfields Life, ‘Buildings that were decaying then are decaying still and the vacant Council-owned flat remains empty after all this time.’ Today, 20th March 2018, the Council are discussing the potential sale of one of their properties within Trinity Green.
To counter this, and to counter the continued lack of appropriate care and attention given to these properties, The Spitalfields Trust are proposing that they buy not only the Council-owned flat, but the entirety of Trinity Green.
The Spitalfields Trust wants to take on total responsibility for the maintenance of Trinity Green and give it a sustainable future. The proposal involves creation of an independent buildings preservation trust, using income from rents and grants available to heritage trusts to maintain the property indefinitely.
What can I do to help?
Below you can read The Spitalfields Trust letter and, if you wish to support this initiative, please write to John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE SPITALFIELDS TRUST
18 Folgate Street,
London E1 6BX
Cabinet Meeting – 20th March 2018
Regarding the disposal of 2 Trinity Green, Mile End Rd
Dear Mayor Biggs & Cabinet Members,
I am writing to you in relation to Trinity Green, one of the most important groups of Grade I listed buildings in London; buildings which are critical in the architectural history of London and which played an important role in the development of the conservation movement in Britain.
I attach our previous letter dated the 13th April 2016 in which we outlined our concerns surrounding the condition of the buildings and the lack of a comprehensive plan for their future management – a concern which is also shared by a number of other conservation and heritage groups.
Subsequent to this letter, we met onsite with Council officers and encouraged them to produce condition reports which we saw as an important first step to finding a comprehensive solution.
We are surprised that paragraph 3.17 of the report issued last Thursday 15th makes no mention of The Spitalfields Trust, nor of our initial approach which has led to this outcome. Indeed we would not have been aware of the report’s existence but for the intervention of The Friends of Trinity Green.
The Spitalfields Trust are still ready, willing and able – for the reasons set out in our previous letter – to engage with the Council. But we feel that there is a lack of understanding on the part of officers of the complexity of the situation and a lack of willingness to work with us to find a potential solution. It seems that this will now require direction and leadership from Councillors and the Mayor.
We feel that the proposed sale will impact adversely on finding a strategy for the site as a whole. It is obvious that only one comprehensive strategy can produce a durable solution, thus relieving the council of its significant obligations.
We estimate the restoration of the Chapel will cost £500,000, while the street frontage and green will cost £100,000. The notion that the Council will be able to cover this cost or be able to carry out the specialist work required is not realistic.
Consequently, The Spitalfields Trust would like to propose a comprehensive plan for the restoration and protection of Trinity Green which will be cost effective to the Council and will relieve it of its current and long-term obligations.
We are prepared to purchase the site as a whole from Tower Hamlets Homes, to restore it fully.
We are prepared to take on responsibility for the common parts of Trinity Green and to develop and carry out a comprehensive restoration plan for the common parts (e.g. the gates) of the buildings.
We would transfer the common parts to a newly created buildings preservation trust, including the current owners of the buildings, which would be responsible for their long-term maintenance.
The Council is obliged as a best value authority under section 3 of the Local Government Act 1999 to ‘make arrangements to secure continuous improvement in the way in which its functions are exercised having regard to a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness.’
Selling No.2 at auction, with no provision to mitigate the short-term repairs or future expense of maintaining Trinity Green would be a short-sighted move. The Trust would not be prepared to purchase No 2 in isolation and instead proposes an overall strategy which takes into account the considerable cost of restoring the chapel and common areas which have been badly neglected.
We would like the opportunity to continue the dialogue begun in 2016, to meet and find an effective and durable solution.
Chairman, The Spitalfields Trust