London’s £1.1bn East Bank under way

Work has begun on the cultural centre in the former Olympic Park at Stratford, East London.

At a cost of £1.1bn the new East Bank development in Queen Elizabeth Park will provide a Sadler’s Wells dance theatre, two V&A sites, a campus for the London college of Fashion, BBC recording studios and campus for UCL (University College London), BBC recording studios, and a campus for University College London.

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said it would be the most significant cultural development in the capital since the 1851 Great Exhibition and it is hoped that East Bank will have a multiplier effect for commerce, technology, manufacture and retail as well as education, culture and the creative industries. It will provide training and jobs for local people, attract visitors from around the world, bring more than 10,000 students to the site, deliver 2,500 jobs and create a £1.5 billion boost to the economy.

The mayor has also announced £10m from Westfield Stratford City – a founding partner in East Bank - for careers coaching, mentoring, learning opportunities, internships and apprenticeships as well as support for entrepreneurs and new business start-ups in the arts, culture and placemaking industries. There is also investment from Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and APG Asset Management.

And the City of London Corporation has promised £1 million to enable the Foundation for Future London to deliver even more arts and education programmes in east London with the East Bank partners, supporting local arts and culture groups across Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Hackney, as well as helping to provide paid internships and training opportunities across East London. 

“Culture and creativity has shaped our city and made us who we are – the capital is overflowing with talent and imagination and it is what makes London the greatest city in the world” Khan said. “East Bank will inspire a whole new generation of Londoners to pursue their creative ambitions. This new creative cluster will bring together world-leading cultural and educational institutions to give young Londoners the chance to explore career opportunities, create jobs for local people and provide an economic boost for the capital.”

The two new V&A sites incorporate a museum at Stratford Waterfront, a partnership with Washington’s Smithsonian Institution, and a collection and research centre.

Projects include STEP offering young East Londoners 12-month paid internships at organisations including the East Bank partners and a recent initiative saw four young local people STEP into the Smithsonian, spending three weeks at the Smithsonian in Washington DC to develop their skills.“Investments in culture and creative opportunities around East Bank are really empowering; they literally alter how you interpret and appreciate such a globally important and unique city, which is easy to take for granted when you're caught up in trying to get by in a place you otherwise just know as home” said Abondance Matanda from STEP Into Smithsonian.

East Bank is also building on partnerships with existing arts and community organisations, including the artistic community in Hackney Wick, East London Dance, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Studio Wayne McGregor.The construction programme will see more than 1,500 people working on site, at least 30% locally recruited, and more than 125 apprentices will be working on the site every year.

The £1.1bn scheme is receiving £385m funding from the Mayor of London and £151m funding from the government. Work will be completed in phases with Sadler’s Wells, UCL and UAL’s London College of Fashion opening their buildings first in 2022, and then BBC and the V&A (including its partnership with the Smithsonian Institution) in 2023, along with UCL’s second building on their UCL East campus.


Print Email