Mayor breaks ground to start construction on new culture powerhouse

02 July 2019

·        Work begins on transformative new East Bank: a £1.1bn project that represents the most significant single investment in London’s culture since the legacy of the 1851 Great Exhibition

·        The new powerhouse of culture, education, innovation and growth will create thousands of jobs and hundreds of apprenticeships

·        Westfield Stratford City will be the Founding Partner and Official Sponsor of East Bank’s new project providing funding of £10m for a new jobs, learning, training and educational programme for local people 

·        £1m funding from City of London announced to deliver arts and education to the community

·        Historic moment marked with fanfare composed and played by east London children and burial of time capsule selected by local primary school


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

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.

East Bank will help to cement the capital’s reputation as a world leader in these fields, with a new purpose-built east London hub.


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 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 £1.5 billion boost to the economy.


Today, Sadiq was joined at the UCL East campus site by local schoolchildren as they buried a time capsule symbolising the huge impact the project will have on the capital’s future generations. The historic moment was accompanied by a fanfare from a group of young east London musicians specially commissioned by the BBC, and was also attended by the cultural and education institutions taking part in the transformative scheme.


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. This follows investment in the Stratford area from the owners – Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and APG Asset Management - ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games, partnering with the Olympic Delivery Authority to deliver important site wide infrastructure and opening Westfield Stratford City.

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


An integral part of the project is creating opportunities for young Londoners, and to date more than 125,000 people have attended and participated in a range of arts and cultural events, summer schools and workshops for East Bank. Projects include STEP, which offers young east Londoners the opportunity of a 12-month paid internship programme at organisations including the East Bank partners. Recently, the initiative saw four young local people STEP into the Smithsonian, spending three weeks at the Smithsonian in Washington DC to develop their skills and kick-start their future careers.

East Bank is also building on the area’s existing creative credentials with partners delivering projects with the thriving arts, fashion and community organisations based there, including the artistic community in Hackney Wick, East London Dance, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Studio Wayne McGregor and many more.

The construction programme will see more than 1,500 people working on site,  at least 30 per cent 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 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. 


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.”

Abondance Matanda from STEP Into Smithsonian said: “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.”

Christophe Cuvillier, Group CEO, 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.”


Notes to editors

East Bank will be spread across three sites


  1. UCL East - UCL’s pioneering new campus will be home to around 4,000 students and staff. It will provide multi-disciplinary research, teaching and innovation in areas as diverse as robotics, smart cities, culture and conservation. It will also be embedded in the local community with public spaces and collaborations with schools, charities and community organisations.
  1. The Stratford Waterfront


UAL’s London College of Fashion will create a new campus for 6,500 students and staff with state-of-the-art facilities including public open spaces, galleries, library and archives.


Sadler’s Wells will build a 550-seat theatre presenting the best dance from the UK and around the world, establish a choreographic centre and a hip-hop theatre academy, both of which will be the first of their kind in the world to be run by a theatre, and offer engagement programmes for audiences and local communities.


The BBC will build a new home for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Chorus, BBC singers and rock and pop recording facilities with access to the public for performances.


The V&A will create two sites as part of East Bank – a brand-new museum at Stratford Waterfront, and a new collection and research centre at Here East.


The museum will host a unique and unprecedented partnership between the V&A and the Smithsonian Institution – the largest museum and research complex in the world.


  1. Here East

The V&A's new Collection and Research Centre will bring together 250,000 objects and an additional 917 archives in a new, purpose-built home for the V&A’s collections at Here East.


UCL already have a 6,000 sqm space at Here East, home to a unique collaboration between The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and the Faculty of Engineering Science. It allows architects, engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, anthropologists and many others to work side-by-side and interact with nearby entrepreneurs, performers and researchers.


UCL was granted planning permission in March 2019 for the two Phase One buildings for the UCL East campus, which will open from 2022. 


Stratford Waterfront gained planning permission in May 2019 and will provide 41,965 sqm of educational space, 8,144 sqm of cultural space, 20,770 sqm of performance venue space, 1,934 of retail/food and drink space and 86 sqm of office space. It was also granted outline planning consent for up to 62,800 sqm of residential development and up to 2,200 sqm of retail/ food and drink. A detailed planning application will be brought forward in the near future.


The new buildings have been designed by architects Allies and Morrison (BBC, London College of Fashion, UAL) and O’Donnell + Tuomey (Sadler’s Wells East and V&A East). The public realm at Stratford Waterfront has been designed by LDA Design with Camps Felip Arquitecturia creating the new Carpenters bridge. The UCL East campus has been designed by Stanton Williams (leading the design team for the Marshgate building) and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (leading the design team for the Pool Street West building). The V&A’s Collection and Research Centre has been designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. 


Foundation for Future London is an independent charity created to connect communities and the East Bank partners with the scale and resources needed to ensure the East Bank is London’s must-visit destination, while developing skills, generating jobs and strengthening relationships to produce a resilient, thriving, world-class neighbourhood.


For images please contact London Legacy Development Corporation Press Office on 020 3734 9010 or email[email protected]


For information about:

The BBC, visit:

The V&A, visit:

The Smithsonian Institution, visit:

The University of the Arts London (UAL), visit:

The London College of Fashion, visit:

UCL (University College London), visit:

Sadler’s Wells, visit:

Foundation for FutureLondon:

Westfield Stratford City


Quotes from partner organisations


Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons, OBE, said:“Today marks a major milestone for London's Olympic legacy. I am delighted that the Mayor is breaking ground at East Bank – this is the start of the most ambitious cultural and education district in a generation. East Bank will cement London’s reputation as an international cultural capital and inspire a whole new generation of Londoners to pursue their creative ambitions.”


Professor Michael Arthur, UCL President & Provost: "As one of the world’s leading universities, we address many of the most pressing global challenges of our time. UCL East will take this one step further. We are proud to be part of East Bank and excited to break ground on our site today – a major milestone in making the collective vision a reality.”


John Davis, the Provost of the Smithsonian Institution, said: “Congratulations to our esteemed London colleagues for reaching this impressive milestone on the road to making the East Bank project a reality. The project’s diverse institutions, each applying distinctive strengths and skills, will help find creative and innovative ways to address some of the 21st century’s most pressing challenges affecting communities across the world.”


Professor Frances Corner OBE, Head of London College of Fashion and Pro-Vice Chancellor University of the Arts London, said: “We are thrilled to be breaking ground, bringing us one step closer to uniting London College of Fashion, UAL for the first time in our 120 year history. As one of the world’s leading specialist fashion colleges, we are delighted to be working alongside our East Bank partners to bring to life one of Europe’s most exciting education and cultural destinations. Together, we are creating a space which will give our staff, students and wider community an extraordinary new campus which will enable us to re-write the rules of fashion education.” 


Tim Reeve, Deputy Director and COO V&A, said: “V&A East is one of the most significant moments in the history of the V&A. The East Bank scheme has given us the opportunity to revolutionise both access to our collections, and the breadth of experiences we can offer visitors. We are very proud to join the Mayor in marking today’s groundbreaking, alongside many representatives of the community that we are fortunate to be joining. It will be hugely exciting to see this world-class collaboration of partner institutions start to take physical shape on site over the coming months.”


Rhona Burns, Finance & Operations Director, BBC Radio and Education, said: “We’re really looking forward to working with the local community in Stratford on education and learning projects, and partnering with the cultural organisations on site artistically, to take the BBC’s musical legacy at Maida Vale forward for a new generation.”


Britannia Morton, Chief Operating Officer of Sadler’s Wells, said:“Our new mid-scale theatre represents a unique opportunity to place dance at the heart of what will be a global creative hub, allowing us to change the way we develop artists and to engage with a wider audience – on a local, national and international level. We are delighted to be working with the other East Bank partners on this project and to be already working with a number of arts organisations and schools in east London, and look forward to the completion of our new venue in three years’ time.”


Maria Adebowale-Schwarte, Executive Director of the Foundation for Future London, said: “Foundation for Future London is delighted by the generous donation from Westfield Stratford City who will be the Founding Partner and Official Sponsor of East Bank’s new project providing funding of £10m for the project’s programme of work to invest in jobs, training, entrepreneurship, learning, mentoring and business opportunities for the East Bank local communities of Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest. In partnership with world renowned arts, culture, education, and innovation partners, Westfield Stratford City’s support will help create an exciting new destination and support local communities. This is what the Foundation for Future London's is about – funding and helping to secure investment for East Bank to support the development of an inclusive creative and thriving place for people, to live, work and visits – now and into the future.”


Sir Peter Hendy, CBE, chair of London Legacy Development Corporation, said: “Today marks the start of an exciting new chapter for East Bank. In just a few short years an amazing new powerhouse of culture, education and innovation will be open to the world. And before that, thanks to the very substantial generosity of Westfield Stratford City and the City of London Corporation, the Foundation for Future London together with the East Bank partners will deliver an amazing programme of arts and culture across east London.”


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