Disused Waterlow building could make way for temporary medical training centre

Artist’s impression of new Medical Education Centre. Photograph: Islington Council.

Councillors will consider plans next week for a temporary medical education centre to be built on Highgate Hill.

The centre would replace the Waterlow Building, a former mental health inpatient centre which has stood empty for the past 15 years, as well as making space for a new mental health hospital at the Whittington.

The plans are part of a wider relocation of health services known as Project Oriel, which includes Moorfields Eye Hospital’s move to St Pancras.

Whittington Health CEO Siobhan Harrington said: “A space that has been occupied by an empty building for over 15 years is going to be put to much better use – new education facilities for our staff.

“This is part of a long term plan to transform the Whittington Hospital site in order to deliver the modern and fit-for-purpose facilities our patients deserve.”

Waterlow Building as it currently appears. Photograph: Islington Council.

If approved by councillors, the facility would be put in place for five years,  providing replacement medical education, demonstration and meeting spaces in a purpose-built building.

Approval was granted to demolish the existing Waterlow building back in July, with the temporary training centre that could take its place to boast lecture halls, meeting rooms, and a medical theatre simulation suite.

The current Whittington Education Centre (WEC) would move in, allowing Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust to take up the site of the existing WEC, having secured finance to demolish its St Pancras buildings.

According to council officers, the existing Waterlow Building will not be reused as it would require “significant investment for reconfiguration and refurbishment to reuse for acute health care”, with the NHS advising that it has been considered for reuse a number of times without ever being a “preferred option”.

Islington planning officers said: “The existing Waterlow building measures 5316 square metres (sqm) and it is noted that the mental health function cased and was relocated over 15 years ago.

“The replacement building would provide 1483sqm of medical education and associated floor space. This represents a reduction of 3833sqm.

“However, the new building would, if permitted, provide an efficient, modern and fit-for-purpose facility that is clean, dry, asbestos free and safe for purpose as a medical education facility.”

Islington’s planning sub-committee meets on Tuesday 15 October.