St Clements Hospital and the CLT

St Clements - still empty

In 2003 the East London and The City Mental Health NHS Trust decided to sell the site for redevelopment. The site was sold for £20 million to English Partnerships (which has now become part of the Homes and Community Agency) for redevelopment as housing. Over the years (nearly 10 since the NHS decided to sell the site) various development documents and plans have been published by a variety of organisations but the site remains empty. (see links below)

At the beginning of last year the HCA announced they would dispose of the site and invited interested parties to submit an initial letter expressing interest. This part of the process is known as the “ring round” in the developers world for reasons I will not go into here. Letters of interest went in and a decision was due to be made on 15th December last year. This was postponed leaving the four remaining bidders:-

  • East London Community Land Trust – Igloo
  • East Thames Group -Wates
  • Swan – Galliford Try
  • Hadley Mace

… wait until February 21st for the results

The East London Community Land Trust (ELCLT) – a group of 1,000 local people – who had been hoping to transfer land ownership into a trust and sell off or rent out homes at affordable prices – in some cases just 25% of their true market cost. The ELCLT have been holding meetings (11 altogether) to consult with residents and institutions on what they would like to see on the site. Initial plans were drawn up based on these events. None of the 3 other remaining bidders have given any indication of their plans. A Community Interest Company, St Clements Bow CIC, was set up at the end of 2010 which claims to ensure a ‘bottom-up’ approach to the development of the site. The operation runs out of a private house on Bow Road. Both shares in the company are owned by an ex board member of East Thames Group. The CIC website has been swiftly removed but thanks to google cache  you can read about it here.

On the 15th February a decision came out from the HCA. They are still being coy about the preferred developer but it is certain that the scheme from the ELCLT designed by Maccreanor Lavington was rejected. The ELCLT is still hopeful the group would be involved with the work there. The amount of involvement is unknown yet. But project director Dave Smith said

“There is some further work to be done with the preferred development partner, in order to clarify proposals for a community land trust within their proposed scheme,” Smith said. “We anticipate a joint announcement to be made in due course.”

Both London Mayoral candidates have in the past given firm commitments to the idea of a true Community Land Trust. Ken Livingstone in 2007:-

I believe that Community Land Trusts can complement our other initiatives and we will work hard with Tower Hamlets Council and the community towards making this first pilot a success and ensuring that the community plays a key role in solving our housing crisis.

And Boris in his 2008 housing manifesto:-

We firmly believe therefore that creating a network of CLTs across London is not only the most creative and transparent use of public assets owned by the GLA. It is also the clearest example yet of devolving planning power to communities…

The true CLT idea proposes full community control with the possibility of setting house price levels – £125,000 for a family home (you buy the bricks and the land stays in trust) It works like this…

If you bought a CLT home for £100,000 and in 10 years time it was worth £200,000, you would sell it back to the Trust for (roughly) £125,000… and they could then sell it at this discount to the next family. You basically trade an upfront subsidy for a diminished return, remove speculation on land value and invest in housing for homes not for profit.

First ideas from the Community Land Trust - view from Hamlets Way


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