Healthy food festival on the menu to show how Whitechapel is shaping up

Masterplan for Whitechaepl town centre

Masterplan for Whitechaepl town centre - Credit: THC

A healthy food festival is being staged in east London to show how Whitechapel is to shape up when Crossrail trains start running in two-and-a-half years’ time and a new civic centre opens the following year.

Tower Hamlets new town hall for a new Whitechapel

Tower Hamlets new town hall for a new Whitechapel - Credit: THC

The four-hour festival is being set up outside the Royal London Hospital from 11am on January 28.

Healthy foods with global flavours are being organised jointly by Barts NHS Trust with Tower Hamlets Council featuring street food and drinks stalls from across the world, with activities and live music by Box of Toys Collective.

Community stalls have details of Whitechapel’s major regeneration scheme transforming the run-down district into the East End’s new town centre, which includes the Crossrail interchange station opening in 2018 and Tower Hamlets council’s new Civic Centre opening at the Old hospital site opening by 2019.

The reshaping of Whitechapel also includes public spaces, roads, shopping centre and up to 3,500 new homes.

Food fest planned at entrance to new Royal London Hospital

Food fest planned at entrance to new Royal London Hospital - Credit: Archant

“Whitechapel is changing fast,” Tower Hamlets cabinet member Joshua Peck said. “With Crossrail coming, we’re determined to secure the benefits for local people, especially new jobs and small business opportunities. The festival is a chance for the public to let us know how to do that.”

The old London Hospital which had been treating the sick for nearly three centuries was given the planning green light last summer to be turned into a 21st century town hall.

The original Whitechapel Infirmary for the Poor, which later became the London Hospital, was bought up by Tower Hamlets Council for a ‘bargain basement’ price of £9 million in a deal with the NHS last February, after the New Royal London Hospital was completed round the corner in 2013.

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But there is a cost of having to revamp the Grade II-listed site, which dates back to the 1740s. It is likely to set the local authority back a cool £77 million just to bring it up to scratch as a civic centre in its preserved setting.

But at least it would be in the heart of the East End rather than tucked away like the current Mulberry Place town hall in an isolated corner next to the Blackwall Tunnel, on the very edge of the borough.

The council’s cabinet agreed last summer that Whitechapel was now the “preferred location” to replace Mulberry Place, where the 20-year lease runs out in 2020.