On 28th July 2015, Mayor John Biggs agreed that the previous decision, taken by the previous cabinet before the mayoral election, be withdrawn and that a new report be presented to Cabinet. The Mayor requested that feasibility studies and financial modelling be carried out to ensure that the right decision was made.
The lease for the current Town Hall, Mulberry Place, expires in June 2020 and all staff must have decanted by September 2019. It was agreed to progress design development for both the former Royal London Hospital site and John Onslow House.
Consolidating council buildings into a consolidated site will improve efficiency and allows the disposal of other sites ‘for the capital receipts to cross fund the new development. All these disposals would then deliver affordable housing when brought forward as planning-compliant housing schemes.’
Mayor John Biggs said:
“I don’t take any great pleasure in spending Council money on an administrative building – our money should go into services - and I want to keep its costs down while creating a good working environment and making the Council more effective and efficient. However, we have little choice and I think, after careful and detailed examination, this is the best option. Given the size and the scope of the plans it’s crucial to ensure that the numbers stacked up and we are delivering a scheme which provides residents with the best deal available.
“Moving to a grade II building presents its own challenges but the Old London Hospital building has been an icon at the heart of the East End since the 1700s. It’s good that its façade will remain and that the building will continue in its role as a place of public service, belonging to us all.
“The decision also allows for the creation of more than 700 new homes on land we won’t need, and we will ensure that as many of these as possible are truly affordable for local people.
“I made sure all groups – Tory, Labour and Independent – were involved in the decision and I am delighted the Independents still think it’s the best option. My duty, given the past, was to look closely sat the proposals and check they made sense. I want a reference group, including the Independent and Tory Councillors, to closely monitor the project to make sure it doesn’t get out of control or, for example, become a palace. I will be watching it very closely too.”