Tower Hamlets councillors have agreed to press ahead with early plans to convert a former hospital into a new town hall.

Proposals for a replacement town hall in Whitechapel went before Tower Hamlets councillors on Tuesday, November 3.

A report by the council’s officers sent to members recommended the former Royal London Hospital site in Whitechapel as the preferred location for a new civic centre.

The original plans were put forward by previous mayor Lutfur Rahman ’s administration, and current incumbent John Biggs said the plans needed to be put under the spotlight by all parties.

“It was in danger of becoming a bit of a palace,” mayor Biggs told the meeting. “I want this to be scrutinised as much as possible.

“It will cost tens of millions of pounds and take around seven or eight years to finish, so I want all councillors to have a say.”

The council’s current home at Mulberry Place in Poplar costs taxpayers £5million a year to rent as part of a lease agreement which was struck in 1993. The lease will expire in June 2020, requiring the council to leave by September 2019. As the civic centre would not be complete by then, this would mean interim premises would be needed.

The report stated a new centre could be funded by using money generated from selling other council-owned sites such as Cheviot House in Commercial Road.

The council will now look into the costs of such a building and draw up a capital estimate.