Economic, heritage and environmental benefits
The new Town Hall will help the council to reach its target of being carbon neutral by 2030.
- There is space for 3000 bicycles, along with superb public transport links.
- A BREEAM ‘excellent rating for sustainability
- A brown roof to encourage biodiversity
- Solar PV panels are proposed which convert solar energy into thermal or electrical energy
- Air source heat pump: this is a system which transfers heat from outside to inside a building, or vice versa.
- A rainwater harvesting system
We have worked with Historic England to preserve the integrity of the Grade II listed building in our designs and during construction work.
We have several heritage items/features that have been protected like:
- The Grade II listed front block will be retained as will the façade on the Grocer’s Wing.
- Restoration of the external clock and façade brick work.
- Replacement of heritage windows with the same look and feel
- Refurbishment of original internal winding staircase
- Attic space where Elephant Man lived
- Front Block - ground floor main entrance - Lutyens Doorway. The engraved grey marble Lutyens memorial tablet will be re-fixed in the front entrance Hall.
- The Painton coats of arms is being incorporated into the design of the new town hall after it was moved from the entrance in 1957.
Jobs and skills
Throughout the build we have created local employment, training and apprenticeship opportunities, as well as local business opportunities.
They have included:
- school engagement, career days, work experience opportunities and job fares
- employed 403 people from Tower Hamlets and growth boroughs with on average over a quarter of employees from Tower Hamlets or the growth boroughs
- employed 19 local apprentices (all from TH & Growth Boroughs)
- provided over 160 hours of work experience
- procured over £6m of goods and services from local businesses
- provided over 300 hours (BYUK+LBTH combines) to leading tours and events with schools, colleges and universities
- We estimate that, once open, the new Town Hall will bring around £4.1m of spend to the local area every year
Farhan Khan | Assistant project manager
Assistant project manager Farhan Khan wanted to be an architect since she was a child, but struggled to get into the industry until she started as an apprentice at Tower Hamlets Town Council.
She said: “I loved buildings from a young age and always wanted to challenge the norm. I didn’t always feel supported by my teachers and extended family when I expressed my ambitions to become an architect, they’d tell me that it would be hard work and too difficult for a young, Bengali woman.”
She was forced to put her dreams on hold when at the age of 17, she faced difficult times due to changing personal circumstances that were beyond her control. She started working in retail, until a friend sent her details about apprenticeships available at the council. She applied and got the position in 2008.
She explained: “I hadn’t let go of my ambition to be an architect so I asked to do an apprentice with the planning department. I also worked as an apprentice in different departments and learnt so much.
“When Mayor Lutfur Rahman said he wanted to purchase the historic Royal London Hospital building to turn it into the new town hall, I was in the meeting taking minutes. I remember thinking what a brilliant idea it was. I was completely obsessed with the project since then. When a vacancy came up seven months ago to work as assistant project manager on the project, I applied and got the job.
“I love it. It has been really hard work, but seeing everyone’s smiling faces as they see the new town hall for the first time makes it all work it. And my six-year-old daughter now really wants to be an architect too which makes me feel so proud.”
Charlie Carter | Project manager
Charlie Carter started working at Tower Hamlets Council in 2017 as a graduate trainee before being appointed as project manager for the new town hall project in 2019. Alongside his full-time job, he has also completed an MA in urban design and town planning which the council funded.
He said: “I am really pleased with how well the old mixes with the new. The building has a rich history and we have celebrated that. We have not attempted to hide every imperfection – we are letting it show its scars. The more you play around with it and attempt to create a pristine building you lose the history which makes it so special.
“We uncovered centuries of history as we stripped the building, including incredible riveted steel columns, and even scraps of newspaper from the 1890s in the historic clock face.
“Doing a full time job with the MA course was intense but it was an amazing opportunity as I wouldn't have been able to fund the course otherwise.
“It has been a super demanding few years, but it amazing to see all the staff and residents so happy with the new building.”
Yasmin Ali | Project director
Project director Yasmin Ali was born and raised in Tower Hamlets and understands the connection local people have with the building.
She said: “My father died in the Royal London Hospital when I was very young. That is one of my earliest memories of having a connection with the building. I also had my oldest child there, so I understand the important role it has played in the lives and deaths of people in the borough.
“It has been a privilege to be part of the team working on the project, from the design to the construction. There have of course been a lot of complexities with the project, not least from refurbishing a grade II listed building, but also the complications of working through the pandemic. It has been an amazing experience.
“Mulberry Place wasn’t that accessible, but the new town hall is in one of the most accessible parts of London, let alone Tower Hamlets. There is so much more here, with the market, shops and public transport links.
“It is not only a great investment for our staff and residents, but also a legacy for them.”