Transformation of Estates | London Borough of Waltham Forest Town Hall Campus

The London Borough of Waltham Forest, London’s first Borough of Culture, is transforming its historic Town Hall Campus, enabling the delivery of high quality new homes, the co-location of public sector staff and the delivery of integrated public services.

Region: London
Theme: Regneration, Housing (in OPE), Integrated Public Services

The challenge

  • To consolidate 1,400 council staff onto a single site to improve communications, working methods, service delivery, and save operating costs
  • Refurbish the historic Town Hall, the fountain and War Memorial, create a new Town Hall Square to be the social heart of the development. The vision can be found at Town Hall Campus-Our Vision. 
  • To be cost neutral upon completion of all phases (by 2023) and provide new homes (50 per cent affordable)
  • The London Borough of Waltham Forest is one of the fastest growing in terms of population growth in London, leading to a need for development. The Draft London Plan has increased the council’s housing targets to deliver 1,800 new homes p.a. over the next 10 years.

The story

One Public Estate (OPE) has awarded a total of £260,000 to the Town Hall Campus and Town Hall Campus Feeder Sites projects, including £200,000 of Sustainable Grant which launched as a pilot in 2018. Waltham Forest Council received the Sustainable Grant to support its Town Hall Campus Feeder Sites project and, within 1 year, has paid back the grant following the disposal of one of these sites, Harvey House.

The OPE programme has successfully brought together the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Probation Service and the council to align the interests of local and central government. Bringing together these public sector partners has meant that better outcomes have been achieved for local residents. The first phase of consolidation saw the council purchase the surplus Waltham Forest Magistrates Court from the MoJ, refurbish and then reopen the premises as temporary council offices pending the full redevelopment of the site to deliver a new civic centre in 2023. 

Waltham Forest Council currently has staff based in ten corporately managed offices, including six remote locations, with estate running costs at just under £2 million per annum. Consolidating borough-wide, office-based operations from multiple locations onto the Town Hall Campus will reduce estate running costs and unlock land for new housing. The council’s estates transformation strategy also promotes integrated models of service delivery for benefit of the local community.

The development supports the borough’s vision of optimising the civic estate and creating a mixed-use destination for people to visit, live, work and play.

The housing element of the project, including at least 50 per cent affordable housing, delivers on a key priority in the council’s housing strategy and the Mayor of London’s Housing Policy. Nine of the council’s older, less efficient offices will close, freeing up land for circa 300 new homes on the campus and a further 400 new homes from surplus sites. The project will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the Forest Road Corridor, building on the successful openings of the Walthamstow Wetlands Centre, William Morris Gallery and One Hoe Street.        

The Waltham Forest Town Hall Campus development will create a new neighbourhood in a unique historic setting that is a welcoming place for all communities and leaves a positive legacy for future generations.

Architects impression of the redeveloped Town Hall Campus - Image Credit Gort Scott Architects

The ‘one community’ philosophy means each civic building will be open for public and business use, including new cafe space to be occupied by and showcase local businesses and producers. The grounds will also be made more accessible to the public and links enhanced to knit the Campus into the surrounding neighbourhood.



Architects impression of the new Town Hall Square - Image Credit - Churchman Thornton Finch Landscape Architects

One of the former remote offices, Juniper House, is being developed by the council for new housing and planning approval was recently obtained for a 91 unit development (50 per cent affordable) with works due to start in summer 2019. Probation staff formerly based at the Magistrates Court have been co-located with council staff to enable joined up service delivery.


Martin Esom, Chief Executive, London Borough of Waltham Forest, said:
“OPE funding has been instrumental in allowing us to redevelop and modernise our civic estate by instilling collaborative, partnership working with other public sector partners to create economic growth for Waltham Forest residents alongside the delivery of new housing and improved public services.”

The first phase of establishing a new Town Hall Square is complete following the pedestrianisation of the heart of the campus in May 2019 and with the refurbishment of the Town Hall due to start in 2020. A multidisciplinary team, including sector-leading architects, historic-building engineers, and landscape architects, has been procured to develop the designs for the refurbished Town Hall. Meanwhile, the tender process has begun to procure a development partner to build the new civic building, residential buildings, and landscape/civic square features (Town Hall Campus Redevelopment Launch). The developer procurement process is scheduled to complete by December 2019 when the preferred partner will be approved by Cabinet.

Next steps in the delivery of the project is for:

  • decant processes to begin to relocate staff from the town hall to temporary offices in existing council-owned buildings
  • procurement of a development partner for the town hall, fountain, landscape, civic square refurbishments and construction of a new civic building and residential buildings with up to 300 new homes on the campus.

The Outcomes

The Town Hall Campus project is forecast to deliver the following outcomes over the next 10 years.

  • Circa £40 million in capital receipts
  • Circa £2 million in reduced running costs
  • Land released for circa 700 homes (50 per cent affordable)
  • Creation of 500 jobs

The New Town Hall campus will enable:

  • Integrated public services and improved public service delivery
  • New, modern workspace for public sector staff
  • Increased business rates and council tax revenue
  • New public realm including a pedestrianised civic square, refurbished War Memorial, landscaping and refurbished fountain
  • Building on the legacy of the first London Borough of Culture to create a new neighbourhood in the heart of Chapel End ward

For further information please contact our Regional Programme Managers for London.