Preparatory works start at new town hall site

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Mayor John Biggs and Gerald Farque Head of Major Projects at Bouygues at the new Town Hall.

  • Grade II listed former Royal London Hospital building being brought back into community use

Tower Hamlets Council has signed an £8m contract with Bouygues UK to carry out preparatory work on its new town hall ahead of the main construction taking place.

The grade II listed former Royal London Hospital building in Whitechapel is one of London’s most famous landmarks and has been at the heart of the borough’s history since it was opened to patients in 1757.

It has been empty since 2012 and now the council is bringing it back to life in a new £105m development that will retain the building’s features while adding new elements.

The move will save the taxpayer money as the council estimates to recoup £78m from the sale of council buildings that will no longer be needed once staff have moved to the new town hall.

After just six years the council will be saving public money compared to current arrangements as it will no longer be paying £5m a year  to occupy the current town hall at Mulberry Place.

Opening in 2022, the new town hall will be part of the Whitechapel Vision – one of London’s largest regeneration projects which includes the opening of Crossrail at Whitechapel Station in 2019, a new £300m life sciences campus, seven new public spaces and 5,000 jobs.

The ground floor of the new town hall will be open for the public to use for meetings, to access council services and an idea store. The building 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.

Preparatory works

The preparatory works consist of a sensitive soft strip of the building, scheduled to complete in May 2019. This will be accompanied by an archaeological watching brief to ensure the protection and preservation of the historic building and its assets.

A key component of the work is the removal of all asbestos from the building which will be carried out under a controlled and managed procedure in accordance with the Health & Safety Executive guidelines.

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said: “This is another milestone towards the rebirth of a local landmark. The new town hall will bring our services under one roof, along with the Clinical Commissioning Group and Tower Hamlets Homes. That way, it is much easier for residents to get things done.

“At its heart will be a community feel with a café, outdoor spaces, and an idea store. Whether you want to host a meeting, borrow a book or get involved in what is happening in your neighbourhood, the town hall will bring people together and make Tower Hamlets a better place.

“It will also save money over the medium term compared to the council’s current configuration, and it will give us the opportunity to build much needed homes on other sites currently occupied by council offices.”

Gerald Farque Head of Major Projects at Bouygues UK said: “This is a key stage towards the construction phase of the new town hall at the end of the year. This preparatory work is vital in protecting the historical features that make this project so special.”

The new town hall will offer a raft of benefits to the community. These include: 

Economic benefits: 

  • Through consolidation and redevelopment of existing council buildings, the town hall will create around 700 new homes across the borough, including affordable homes.
  • The three year development will generate an estimated 400 construction jobs per year. Our target is for 20 per cent of them, including 65 apprenticeships, to be taken by Tower Hamlets residents.
  • We also want 20 per cent of construction supply chain contracts to be with Tower Hamlets companies.
  • Once completed, we estimate the annual spend of the council and its staff with local shops and services to be around £4.1m.

Protecting heritage

  • We will be retaining the significant fabric, finishes and decorations where possible
  • We will use materials and techniques compatible with the building’s historic construction and to a high conservation design standard

 Environmental benefits:

  • A biodiversity strategy to protect certain species of birds and invertebrates
  • An excellent BREEAM rating for a sustainable building
  • Water-efficient WCs, taps and showers and a low-water irrigation strategy
  • Recycling facilities during the construction to reduce waste to landfill
  • Cycle parking provision for both staff and visitors at the town hall accessed directly from the Cycle Superway
  • Responsibly sourced building materials
  • Energy efficient design to reduce our carbon footprint including renewable energy such as air source heat pumps and photovoltaic panels
Posted on Tuesday 11th September 2018