PLANNING officers strongly urged Sheffield University to retain a historic city building only six months before its demolition was approved.
Emails and letters between Sheffield Council planning officers, the university and its agents have been revealed to campaigners hoping to save the Grade II-listed Edwardian wing of the Jessop Hospital.
In a letter to the university’s consultants about the £80 million engineering block planned for the hospital site and neighbouring land, principal planning officer Dinah Hope called the university’s plans ‘disappointing’.
She branded the proposed engineering building an ‘ungainly big box that has no relationship with its setting’, adding the hospital’s Edwardian wing should be ‘retained, and influence the footprint and massing’ of the new block.
Ms Hope also warned loss of the Edwardian wing could leave the remaining Victorian wing of the hospital ‘weak and out of place against the backdrop of a new building’.
Nick Roscoe and Valerie Bayliss, of the Save Jessop Hospital campaign, said: “The picture that emerges is, leading up to the letter to the university, the planning department were dealing with this application firmly and showing no signs of accepting the demolition of the Edwardian building was necessary.
“The university would not have been happy with this letter – and obviously achieved a more compliant response from officers in the end.”
The council approved the plans in December, but Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has the final say because of the wing’s listed status.
Campaigners have collected 2,500 signatures on a petition at www.jessophospital.org.uk, which will be sent to Mr Pickles urging him to save the wing.