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NHS Property Services Development Director joins our November forum

Above: the restored frontage of the historic Royal London Hospital building, recently re-modelled and re-opened as Tower Hamlets Town Hall, venue for FUTURE CITIES FORUM 'Knowledge Cities' this November (Image courtesy AHMM)

Future Cities Forum is delighted that Adrian Powell will join our discussions on 'Knowledge Cities' in the remodelled historic Royal London Hospital which is now Tower Hamlets Council's new town hall.

Adrian is Director of Investment and Development Management at NHS Property Services, a Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) property company and facilities management services provider, with around 3,000 NHS properties in England. He leads teams which have sold over 550 surplus properties in the last 10 years raising over £500m for reinvestment in the NHS and releasing land for over 8,000 new homes. NHSPS' potential future development pipeline has over 100 capital projects, investing several hundred £m and enabling the delivery of thousands of new homes, many for NHS staff. Adrian also leads a multidisciplinary team on behalf of DHSC to deliver a new life sciences cluster of almost one million square feet in Whitechapel, including an anchor life sciences research facility for Queen Mary University of London.

‘Knowledge Cities’ on 23 November 2023 will continue Future Cities Forum’s successful ‘Science Cities’ series, which has been held this year at St John’s College Oxford, Newnham College Cambridge, and in London at the new Lambeth Palace Library opposite the Evelina Hospital, and at Here East in Stratford. At Whitechapel Adrian will be contributing alongside Barts Health NHS Trust's Programme Director for Life Sciences' Sven Bunn, Barts Life Sciences' Managing Director Grant Bourhill, and the new CEO of MedCity, Angela Kukula., among others.

NHS Property Services (NHS PS) on behalf the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) submitted plans in February 2022 to redevelop five underused and vacant plots of land in the heart of Whitechapel, to create a new life sciences cluster next to the Royal London Hospital.

The five plots of land, which are underused and contain mostly vacant buildings, cover an area equivalent to two and a half football pitches next to the Royal London Hospital. The plans will breathe new life into these buildings, creating high quality space which will be flexible and adaptable to a wide range of life science uses. The cluster will draw on Whitechapel’s diverse population to undertake more inclusive research that reduces health inequalities.

The application will build on the existing foundations of life science activity in the locality, with the proposed masterplan adjacent to the Royal London Hospital, QMUL and QMB Innovation Centre. Whitechapel is also the ideal location for such a cluster to help meet demand for life science space, being very well-connected in terms of location and public transport, particularly with the new Elizabeth Line station at Whitechapel now open.

These ambitious proposals will have a transformational impact on Whitechapel and are expected to create between 3,470 – 5,660 full time jobs and further training opportunities for local people, that range across the life science sector and beyond. Those working in the new life science cluster could spend between £7-12 million per year in the local area boosting local traders' activity and businesses.

A wide variety of improvements to the roads and public spaces around the area is also proposed, making it more welcoming, easier to get around, more attractive, healthy and safe. New trees, planting and lighting will be incorporated to improve the environment, and lively ground floor building uses will add to the vibrancy of the area and help improve natural security. A new public space next to St Augustine with St Philip’s Church will offer a quiet space to sit, rest and dwell amongst lush planting and trees.

This new masterplan for the area and investment in public spaces around Turner Street and Stepney Way will provide natural surveillance and activation, as well as improvements to street lighting. The setting of the Conservation Area and the neighbouring listed buildings will also be enhanced by the proposed building and public realm designs, including the façade retention of the historic Outpatients Department.

QMUL (Queen Mary University of London) announced a property deal with DHSC for the university to take a major stake in the development and operate a new life sciences facility in one of the new buildings. QMUL already has a strong presence in Whitechapel for life sciences research, innovation, education and engagement, which the new facility will substantially augment.

This area of Whitechapel is already undergoing significant regeneration; the new Royal London Hospital opened in 2012 and the former hospital site has been brought back to life by London Borough of Tower Hamlets with its new town hall and civic centre. The new Whitechapel Crossrail station forms an important public transport interchange for both the Underground and London Overground and is expanding the reach of Whitechapel as an employment destination.

Adrian commented on the plans for the Whitechapel life sciences district:

“We are delighted to be leading this project on behalf of the Department for Health and Social Care and working towards a positive decision on the planning application we have submitted to the Council.

This development represents an opportunity to create a vibrant community and commercial cluster that we hope will support a broadly based Life Sciences, technology and innovation ecosystem, providing quality jobs in the area and the best health outcomes for local people. The proposed improvements to the street scene and public areas will also provide a safe, green and attractive place for locals to work, relax and meet.”

Future Cities Forum been running its 'Science cities' series since 2018, starting with David Probert discussing 'Project Oriel' when he was CEO at Moorfields, and John Anderson, Director of Financial Strategy at Imperial College London (talking at White City Place on the making of Imperial West) - looking at how to create the best places for R&D - across life sciences and technology - and how to develop and open up modern hospital and university campuses so they integrate better with their host cities and communities. A wide range of investors, hospital trusts and universities have taken part including Wellcome, Cambridge University Health Partners, AstraZeneca, the Karolinska Institutet, and Oxford University Development.

We have also discussed, at our Oxford and Cambridge forums, the development of urban labs, located in former shopping centres such as the Clarendon Centre by Cornmarket in Oxford - and the appeal for scientists and life sciences businesses to be in vibrant districts.

At our physical forum and accompanying report in 2019 we looked at how to solve the over-heating economies of Oxford and Cambridge and the need to compete on a global scale with such cities as Boston, Mission Bay in California and those emerging in China.


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