Shottobani Desk: Tower Hamlets Council is due to consider the next crucial milestone in its ambitious plans to create a brand new Civic Centre in the heart of the East London borough.
The former Royal London Hospital site in Whitechapel is being brought back into community use as a new Civic Centre. The Civic Centre will be a cornerstone of the transformation of Whitechapel.
Opening in 2022, it will be part of the Whitechapel Vision – one of London’s largest regeneration projects which includes the opening of Crossrail at Whitechapel Station in 2018, a new £300m life sciences campus at Queen Mary University London, seven new public spaces and 5,000 jobs.
The Civic Centre will be in the most accessible part of Tower Hamlets. Situated next to the new transport hub in Whitechapel, it will be served by four different train and tube lines including Crossrail, along with bus and cycle routes.
The plans are subject to Cabinet approval on 27 June 2017 where they will be reviewed to ensure the scheme is delivering best value for money.
Mayor John Biggs said:
“The new Civic Centre will be a landmark building providing a new heart for the borough. By bringing the council together with our partners like healthcare and housing providers, this will be a building where residents can access a range of public services all under one roof, a true hub for our community. We also want to encourage to residents to feel this is a building there to serve them, so there will also be a public space for residents to use for meetings and training.
“This project will not only pay for itself over time, it will save taxpayers money by stopping the council having to spend millions of pounds each year on rent for our current town hall. The new Town Hall won’t even need to cost residents a penny as it could be fully paid for by selling other council buildings which will be freed up as a result of the move.
“The scheme will also provide huge economic benefits for the community with 400 constructions jobs being created over the next three years and local companies encouraged to bid for contracts. At the same time, by consolidating other sites we estimate we can build around 700 new homes.”
The Civic Centre plans have changed to meet the needs of residents to have an accessible, building where they can receive a seamless service to get things done in one place.
As a result, we have expanded the plans to make the building 15 per cent bigger – meaning more public space, more council services in one place and allowing partner organisations to co-locate with us to make life easier for our residents.
The entire ground floor will be dedicated to public use. The meeting rooms and shared spaces will bring people together, residents will be able to access services in one place and there will be space dedicated to training and community activities
It will also connect with the services on offer at the Whitechapel Idea Store across the road, creating a campus to empower our residents to improve their lives and so we can work together to make our borough even better.
We are also moving more teams from other council buildings into the new Civic Centre, along with other bodies including Tower Hamlets Homes and the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), so residents have one place to go to get things done.
We estimate to recoup £78m from the sale of old council buildings that will no longer be needed once staff have moved. These sites will no longer be needed for council offices and could be used to provide much needed new housing.
This could go towards the £105m estimated total cost of the new Civic Centre.
After just six years the council will be saving public money compared to current arrangements as it will no longer be paying the £5m a year it spends to rent its current accommodation at Mulberry Place and the new Civic Centre will remain an asset for the borough
We will have a new Civic Centre that provides a much better service to our residents and preserves one of the borough’s landmark buildings.