How pleasing it was to discover, during a return trip this week to East London, that the site of the now-disused St Clement’s Hospital (this being where I trained as a mental health nurse) is becoming the UK’s first community land trust. This means that the space will be developed for permanently affordable housing for local people.
Having cast an eye through the windows of London estate agents during this trip away I can see why there’s a need. The capital has become a prohibitively expensive place to live and work, it seems.
As it happened, our visit on August 8th coincided with the opening of the Shuffle festival. Curated by Danny Boyle (who made an appearance) this is bringing film, music and other good stuff to the St Clement’s site ahead of its redevelopment.
Further west, in Whitechapel, we discovered that the Royal London Hospital has been built anew under a private finance initiative scheme. The front parts of the old hospital remain, but are unused and propped up from behind for purely ornamental purposes.
At the back, the original nurses’ homes and other notable venues (including the Oxford Arms pub) have been entirely demolished to make way for a tall, exceptionally shiny, new main building. For the time being the Princess Alexandra Building, this being the old School of Nursing site in Philpot Street, remains.
All in all It is – we had to conclude – looking very different.