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Court of Appeal allows demolition of Jessop Hospital by Sheffield University

The Victorian Society regrets the Court of Appeal’s decision yesterday to allow the demolition of the Edwardian wing of Grade II listed Jessop Hospital building by the University of Sheffield.

The Victorian Society, in conjunction with SAVE Britain’s Heritage, were applying for judicial review of the decision by Sheffield Council to allow the demolition.  The fine 1902 gothic revival building was built under the patronage of local industrialist Thomas Jessop.  

Sheffield University is building a new engineering block behind Jessop Hospital.  Local residents and conservation groups, the Victorian Society and SAVE have been campaigning for the University to incorporate the building into the proposed scheme.

Chris Costelloe, Director of the Victorian Society said:

“I welcome the Appeal Court’s confirmation on the key point of law at issue, namely that National Planning Policy (para. 133) should be interpreted as meaning that where a proposed development will lead to substantial harm to or total loss of significance of a designated heritage asset, local authorities must look at the benefit of demolition, rather than just the benefit of the overall scheme. 

Only if the substantial harm or loss to the heritage asset is necessary to achieve substantial public benefits should that public benefit outweigh the harm or loss to the building.”

However on the issue of fact, the Court of Appeal did not support the argument by the Victorian Society and SAVE’s QC Richard Harwood that Sheffield Council had failed to consider the benefit of demolition.  It was ruled that other options had been considered and discarded by the Council - as they did not meet the vision of the University.

Chris Costelloe commented that:

“The University is now free to demolish this well-loved building, despite the fact that retaining the Jessop Building in the design for the new engineering block would have resulted in only a small loss of useable space. 

Jessop Hospital forms part of Sheffield’s industrial and social landscape and history.  We urge the University to take note of the strength of local feeling highlighted by our campaign to save the building.”   

Clem Cecil, Director of SAVE, said:

“While we lost the case in fact, we won it in principle. The Court of Appeal’s ruling has reinforced the need for local planning authorities to consider whether there are substantial public benefits that justify the exceptional course of authorising the demolition of a listed building when compared with the benefits of a scheme which would retain it, and to consider the public benefits of options other than total demolition. The demolition of listed buildings should be exceptional. It is deeply regrettable that the university ignored strong local feeling and has pushed ahead with plans for a new block that will jar with its historic setting.”

Friday 5 July, 2013

More recent item: Obituary: Norman Routledge
Earlier item: Victorian Society and SAVE take Sheffield Council to court over Jessop Hospital

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