ESTATES

Published: 10/03/2005, Volume II5, No. 5946 Page 13

One of the largest public sector building projects in UK history - the£1bn scheme to rebuild the Royal London Hospital - is back on track after a nine-month delay and two redesigns.

In July last year English Heritage and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment raised serious objections to the aesthetics and public accessibility of the buildings proposed for the hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

And in October London mayor Ken Livingstone, who has planning veto over all prestige London building schemes, said he would refuse permission for the project unless substantial revisions were made to take account of design concerns.

A month later, after a significant redesign, the mayor's office said he was still unhappy and suggested revisions, including more floor space in the upper stories of the main 12-story block, changing some elevations and creating 'greater architectural variety'.

Now, after a second redesign, CABE and the mayor say they are willing to support the scheme.

In a letter to Tower Hamlets council, CABE said it applauded work to revise the scheme, which now represented a 'significant improvement on what we have seen before'.

Changes to the upper stories of the building and elevations have 'transformed the project from its original unacceptable proposition into one we can support'.

However it still has reservations about the overall architectural quality of the scheme and suggests the design of the public square at the centre of the project should be re-evaluated.

Barts and the London trust chief executive Paul White said the trust would now work with its partners to ensure that the amendments will not compromise the project's affordability.

He said the design changes would enhance the hospital's setting in the surrounding urban environment and improve its accessibility.