Construction begins on £1.1bn East Bank culture powerhouse

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East Bank,

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, broke ground to mark the start of construction on East Bank – the country’s new powerhouse of culture, education, innovation and growth

East Bank will help to cement London’s reputation as a world leader in culture, education, innovation and growth, with a new purpose-built east London hub.

Work began at the new UCL East and Stratford Waterfront sites at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which will become the largest culture and education project for a generation.

It brings together a new campus for UCL (University College London), BBC recording studios, campus for UAL’s London College of Fashion, a mid-scale dance theatre for Sadler’s Wells, and two new V&A sites – a museum at Stratford Waterfront including a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, and a collection and research centre at Here East. The project will be the most significant single investment in London’s culture since the legacy of the 1851 Great Exhibition.

The transformative East Bank scheme – spread across three sites – will be at the heart of a growing east London cluster of commerce, technology, manufacture, retail, education, culture and the creative industries. It will provide skills and jobs for local people, attracting visitors from around the world, bringing more than 10,000 students to the site, delivering 2,500 jobs and a £1.5bn boost to the economy.

Sadiq was joined at the UCL East campus site by local schoolchildren as they buried a time capsule symbolising the impact the project will have on the capital’s future generations.

Sadiq also announced a £10m funding package from Westfield Stratford City. This new funding will help to deliver 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.

Westfield Stratford City will become Founding Partner and Official Sponsor of East Bank’s new project.

In addition, the City of London Corporation pledged £1m that will enable the Foundation for Future London to deliver even more arts and education programmes in east London with the East Bank partners.

The construction programme will see more than 1,500 people working on site,  at least 30% of whom will be local residents, 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 the 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.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “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.

“That is why I am delighted to be in the Olympic Park breaking ground for the most ambitious cultural development in decades. 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.”

Christophe Cuvillier, group CEO of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said: “Westfield Stratford City is very proud to become the Founding Partner and Official Sponsor of the East Bank’s new project which will provide new jobs, learning, training and educational programmes for local people.

“As a business, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield operates in the most dynamic cities across 12 countries, in Europe and the US. The East Bank project is without doubt the most ambitious programme of its kind in all of the regions we are present.

“Our involvement in East Bank is closely aligned with our commitment to creating flagship destinations and delivering new jobs. This investment will offer local people access to new careers and training opportunities across new cultural and placemaking industries.”

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