Since 2013, the institute of cancer research, along with the London borough of Sutton, have been working together to form a plan for a state-of-the-art cancer facility, their aim to establish a world class science district specializing in the research and treatment of cancer. Their proposal has been described as “an intensely interactive research village, an enjoyable place to work, and an attractive healing environment.” It is to be located south of Sutton town centre, in Belmont, which is home to the Royal Marsden and the Institute of Cancer Research Sutton campus- together forming the 4th largest cancer treatment and research hubs in the world. This £1 billion pound plan will of course have outstanding impacts on cancer innovation, but how will it benefit the local community of Sutton?

The most prominent effect it will have on the people of Sutton is the new opportunity of employment. It is estimated that the hub will provide 7,000 life-science or support jobs, and 6,200 jobs in site construction. It will also become an important component of the London-Oxford-Cambridge ‘gold-triangle’ of life-science research, giving Sutton something else to be nationally recognised and remembered for. The facilities are very environmentally friendly and modernist, with a new school being planned to be built on the site. £40 million is planned to be spent on the Harris Academy, which will accommodate 1,275 students from the local area of secondary school age. It will have a strong focus on scientific related subjects, given its proximity to the cancer hub. This school will become the first in the country to meet the Passivhaus energy performance standard. The Chair of the Children, Family and Education Committee, Wendy Mathys, at The London Borough of Sutton has stated: “As a council we are passionate about giving our young people the very best start in life by providing the opportunity to learn in an environment which will offer a first-class educational experience.” The public transport in the area is also due to improve, because of the influx of people needing to reach the Hub from all over the country, even all over the world. There are talks of extending the Croydon Tramlink to address the lack of transport links. The hub will trigger broader improvements in problems like housing throughout the borough and will help to rebalance the economy.

The London Cancer Hub is expected to do a great service to Sutton and globally. It is estimated that it will contribute to the UK economy £1.1 billion annually and that it will develop up to two new treatment drugs every five years. The people and patients attending the hub won’t feel as though they are just in a clinical environment, they will be part of a community in a treatment space integrated with shops, cafes, green space and a hotel for visitors, to make their stay feel more welcoming- less like a trip to hospital. The leader of Sutton county council, Ruth Dombey, has said: “The London Cancer Hub can become a global centre for cancer innovation, providing state-of-the-art facilities and delivering real benefits for patients. It will create new green spaces, community facilities and well-paid, highly skilled opportunities for local people.”

by Lucy Markham

Sutton High