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Heritage: Campaigners threaten legal action over hospital demolition

Heritage campaigners have threatened Sheffield City Council with legal action after it unveiled plans to demolish a wing of a former hospital, a grade II listed building, to build a new department for engineering, reports the BBC.

The legal row concerns the Edwardian wing of the former Jessop Hospital for Women in Sheffield, built with a donation from steelmaker Thomas Jessop. It was opened in 1878 and closed in 2001.

Since its closure the building has spent some time in disuse, before being converted in 2009 to house the University's Department of Music.

The university commissioned architects to design a new building close to the Jessop building to house its engineering department. The design, drawn up by architects RMJM, is for a new 19,600ft2 box design building, that will see the Edwardian wing of the hospital, that sits on the edge of the site, demolished.

Under UK planning laws, listed buildings are protected from demolition and alteration; however, the National Planning and Policy Framework does permit a listed building to be demolished if it will provide 'substantial public benefit'.

The university has successfully argued to the Council that the construction of the building will bring much needed employment to the local area, and will provide a cash injection of around £40m into the local economy in the first year of construction alone.

Now campaign group SAVE Britain's Heritage has stepped in, to say that the council has misread the National Planning Policy document and to urgently seek a judicial review of the decision to give planning approval to the new building.

Clem Cecil is a director of SAVE.

"We believe in their decision that they have had disregard, they've misinterpreted national planning policy and so, in that case, it deserves to be reviewed in court if national law has been misinterpreted or misapplied," he told the BBC.

The City Council has taken legal advice and says it is prepared to defend the decision to approve the new building in court if necessary.


Sheffield hospital demolition plans face legal threat (BBC News)