Campaigners battling to save the Edwardian wing of Sheffield’s former Jessop Hospital have been given new hope - after two groups launched a legal bid to stop the bulldozers.
The Victorian Society and SAVE Britain’s Heritage are jointly seeking a judicial review of the decision to grant permission for demolition of the Grade II listed building.
Sheffield University, which owns the site, has been granted planning permission to build an £80m engineering block.
The legal action was welcomed by campaign groups in Sheffield.
Valerie Bayliss, chair of South Yorkshire Victorian Society, said: “The Victorian Society was one of the national societies which the council first had to consult and we were vehemently opposed.
“Legal action like this is unusual, and such a joining of forces between conservation groups is more-so.
“This is an indication of just how seriously national organisations are taking this case, fearing the precedent it could create for other listed buildings.”
Nick Roscoe, of the Save Jessop Hospital campaign, said: “Sheffield Council failed to apply national planning laws correctly. A successful result should safeguard the future of this listed building.
“We hope Sheffield University will now stop and properly consider the huge public reaction, and the implications for listed buildings at a national level.”
Howard Greaves, of Hallamshire Historic Buldings Society, added: “We’re delighted this step has been taken. Hopefully Sheffield University will reconsider.”
Communities secretary Eric Pickles, who has to rubber stamp decisions to bulldoze listed buildings, rejected calls by the Sheffield groups and a petition signed by thousands of people trying to save the old hospital.
The Save Jessop Hospital Campaign, Victorian Society and Hallamshire Historic Buildings Society have called on the university to incorporate the threatened building in its new block.
They say demolition would create just 10 per cent extra space - and a piece of Sheffield’s heritage would be lost.
Agents for the university argued the Edwardian wing was a ‘pastiche’ of the ‘more important’ original Victorian wing of the hospital, which it has renovated.
Keith Lilley, Sheffield University’s director of estates, said he believed the new building would be a ‘source of enormous pride for the city’.
He said the university would have difficulty converting the Edwardian wing for use by the engineering department.
Les Sturch, director of Regeneration and Development at Sheffield Council, said: “The council is satisfied the planning committee took into account all relevant facts before making its decision.”