SHEFFIELD University has been granted planning permission to knock down the old Jessop Hospital Edwardian Wing and build an £80 million engineering block – despite a huge campaign to save the Grade II listed building.
A further 110 objections were made in the days before yesterday’s meeting of Sheffield Council’s city centre, south and east planning board whose members decided on the proposals.
The total number of objections was 182, with 72 comments in favour.
Sheffield Council’s head of planning, David Caulfield, called the decision ‘regrettable’ but necessary to help the university expand the engineering department into one of the world’s best.
But a final decision to allow the demolition of the Grade II listed building rests with the Government, and opponents plan to lobby the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles.
Valerie Bayliss, of Sheffield Victorian Society and a member of the campaign to save the building, said: “We are disappointed but not surprised. We will be exploring whether we can make representations to the secretary of state to stop the demolition.”
Sheffield University said retaining the Edwardian Wing would mean its engineering building would be five per cent smaller and accommodate fewer students.
But Ms Bayliss argued during the meeting that a planned atrium and ‘floating pods’ within the new block were wasted space that could be cut to offset a reduction in the building’s size.
She said: “Demolition has not been demonstrated to be necessary. There is always an alternative.”
Fellow member of the campaign against the demolition, Nick Roscoe, of Meersbrook, added: “If the application is rejected, Sheffield University will still develop their new engineering block.”
And Nora Platt, who was born in Brightmore Street, near the old hospital, said: “The city’s founding fathers would be turning in their graves about what we are doing to Sheffield.”
The vote to approve the university’s plans, which will also pave the way for a £53 million revamp of the engineering accommodation, was split on party-political lines, with the four Labour councilors in favour and two Lib Dems against.
Mr Caulfield said: “We see the application as being of significant benefit to Sheffield. Losing a listed building is regrettable.”
Keith Lilley, the university’s director of estates, said: “The Edwardian building is of lesser architectural quality than the Victorian building, which we have kept. We have a vision for it to be the best engineering department in the world.”