National charities have launched a legal battle to save one of Sheffield’s best-loved historical buildings from demolition.
The Victorian Society and Save Britain’s Heritage are stepping up the fight to prevent The University of Sheffield from tearing down the Edwardian wing of the Jessop Hospital by issuing a High Court challenge.
Both organisations have joined forces for the attack on Sheffield Council’s decision to approve plans to demolish the Grade II-listed structure to make way for a new engineering block.
Clem Cecil, director of Save Britain’s Heritage, said: “It is essential that this perception that old buildings are a brake on progress should be dropped.
“Listed buildings are a finite resource that cannot be replaced. This is a valued historic building in one of the country’s major cities, something that should be celebrated and taken advantage of rather than destroyed.”
The proposals were met with huge opposition from residents and conservation groups when they went before the council planning committee in March.
Judicial review proceedings argue that planning officers used the wrong tests when weighing up the damage that approval would cause to a heritage site, against the potential public benefits.
Leading QC Richard Harwood has been appointed to represent the Victorian Society and Save Britain’s Heritage. He said the case will raise vital issues on the way new planning policies operate.
Jessop Women’s Hospital was built under the patronage of Thomas Jessop, one of Sheffield’s great industrial fathers, and designed by architect John Dodsley Webster in the Gothic Revival style.
The University of Sheffield bought the site from the NHS in 2001 and had demolished all but the listed buildings by 2007.
Valerie Bayliss, chairwoman of the South Yorkshire branch of the Victorian Society, said “The Victorian Society was one of the National Amenity Societies who the council first had to consult and we were vehemently opposed to the plans.
“Legal action like this is unusual and such a joining of forces between conservation groups like this more-so.
“This is an indication of just how seriously national organisations are taking this case, fearing the precedent that it could create.”