TELCO communities around Tower Hamlets have focussed their campaign for affordable family housing on St. Clement’s Hospital in Mile End – the proposed site for the first Community Land Trust (CLT) in London. Local schools, mosques and churches have come up with a plan to turn the vacant site into a vibrant community increasing the availability of much-needed affordable housing.
St. Clement’s Hospital, on the Bow Road in east London, was originally built as a workhouse for the poor in 1849. A focal point in the local community for over 150 years, it famously served as general hospital and then a site for people with mental ill health before it was closed in October 2005.
The site comprises of approximately 4.57 acres (1.85 hectares), incorporating a collection of former hospital buildings of varying age, beauty, quality and size – about 11,000m2 in total. The entire site is listed.
The site was sold by the NHS to English Partnerships, which has since become the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) – the government’s housing and regeneration agency – whose self-declared purpose is to, “Create opportunity for people to live in high quality, sustainable places… provide funding for affordable housing, bring land back into productive use and improve quality of life by raising standards for the physical and social environment.”
The HCA plan to sell off the site to private developers in 2010. The London CITIZENS Community Land Trust company has drawn together a fantastic team of planners, architects, developers and financiers that all want to help turn the site into London’s first urban Community Land Trust.
In September 2009, a tour of the site was organised and attended by over 100 members of the local community, during which they discussed its history, its importance as a social institution within the local area and their aspirations for its future use as family-sized, affordable housing for local people. This formed the base for the public launch of the community partnership’s intention to acquire the site.