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Plans unveiled for The London Cancer Hub – the UK’s new global centre for cancer research and treatment

Piazzetta at The London Cancer Hub

Image courtesy of Feilden + Mawson architects

A new global hub for cancer research and treatment is to be established in London with the aim of accelerating the discovery of new treatments.

new ‘roadmap’ document published today (Wednesday) outlines how The London Cancer Hub will become a world-leading life-science campus specialising in cancer research, treatment, education and enterprise.

It calculates that The London Cancer Hub, based in Sutton, south London, will potentially create more than 13,000 jobs and will deliver at least two extra cancer drugs every five years.

The initiative aims to bring together 10,000 scientists, clinical and support staff in a vibrant community of collaborating organisations served by research, educational and leisure facilities. It will be a hotbed for talent, offering research and development space for biotech, pharma and software companies, and equipment manufacturers.

The London Cancer Hub is a partnership between The Institute of Cancer Research, London, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the London Borough of Sutton.

The London Cancer Hub will be developed on the Sutton site of the ICR and The Royal Marsden, and is planned to cover 265,000 square metres – double its current research and treatment space.

Community Plaza at The London Cancer Hub (artist impression)

Image courtesy of Haptic Architects and Nordic - Office of Architecture

The partners are working closely with Epsom and St Helier University NHS Trust – which owns Sutton Hospital on the site – to open up substantial space for expansion and more efficient use of land. The Greater London Authority has provided start-up funding.

New buildings will closely integrate research and cancer care – providing both laboratories and clinical facilities in order to actively drive interactions between scientists and clinicians.

The initiative aims to build on the world-leading position the partners already hold in drug discovery and development. The ICR is a global leader at discovering new cancer drugs – with 20 drug candidates identified since 2005 alone – and The Royal Marsden is an international centre of excellence for cancer treatment.

The ICR and the London Borough of Sutton have established eight key aims for The London Cancer Hub, based on a feasibility study of the project. 

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The local benefits include custom for the local economy, development of supporting transport infrastructure and creation of new jobs and training opportunities for local people. Sutton Council is helping young people to enter the sector by creating a new secondary school on the site which will specialise in the sciences.

Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “This is a fantastically exciting project to create the world’s leading cancer research campus here in London.

“The ICR and The Royal Marsden are already world leaders in cancer research and treatment, but by working with the London Borough of Sutton and the Greater London Authority, we aim to take our facilities and outputs to a new level. The ambition is to discover more innovative cancer drugs, to run more clinical trials, and to partner with industry to take even more treatments to patients.”

Cllr Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council, said: “The London Cancer Hub will do for South London what Tech City has done for East London. It will create thousands of employment and training opportunities for local people and we will be supporting young people to get into the sector by facilitating the building of a school on the site which specialises in the life sciences.

“There will also be a tremendous boost for our local economy, with business opportunities generated by the workforce and visitors, and the development of transport infrastructure needed to support the world-leading site.”

The London Cancer Hub (artist's impression)

Image courtesy of Haptic Architects and Nordic - Office of Architecture

In April 2014, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, launched his MedCity initiative which aims to transform the life sciences sector in London and the greater south east into a world-leading cluster for research, development, enterprise and commercialisation.

Supporting The London Cancer Hub, the Mayor said: "London is already a global capital of science and is awash with numerous exciting research institutions. The London Cancer Hub would be a real coup for the city and would help to ensure that the capital remains on the frontline of developing new treatments to cure the disease."

The aim is to finance the initiative through a combination of private investment, Government grants, philanthropy and commercial rental income.

The roadmap document acknowledges the need to enhance transport links to the site – ideally through a £200m project to bring the tram to Sutton – and to ensure housing and other aspects of infrastructure are upgraded.

A full plan for the site and the surrounding area will be set out in a ‘masterplan’ which is scheduled to be released for public consultation later this month as part of Sutton’s Council’s 15-year Local Plan. Local residents will be given the chance to feed in their views about the plans.

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