LEB Building (2)

Now that I have been alerted to the fact that the LEB Building on Cambridge Heath Road is on the Twentieth Century Society’s list of the Top 10 Twentieth Century Buildings at Risk (https://c20society.org.uk/news/top-10-c20-society-buildings-at-risk-list-2021#dismiss-cookie-notice), it seems all the more odd – and foolish – that Tower Hamlets, which owned the building up till 2017, should have sold it and be in the process of allowing its demolition for another big block of faceless flats. It is not as if Tower Hamlets has an overwhelming number of historically important buildings and, as has been pointed out, the LEB Building belongs to a vocabulary of post-war civic and urban reconstruction which is surely worth preserving – and indeed is a very important part of the history of Stepney and Bethnal Green, the heartland of post-war civic improvement. It seems that there is a Faustian pact between local government and developers: that local government wants and needs the income from development, so is prepared to sacrifice historic buildings irrespective of their historic importance and, equally important, of the environmental cost of preferring new build to conservation. It’s probably too late to do things differently, but it’s part of a pattern which will look crazy in retrospect.

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