Picking up the pieces

This is the first update since Grade II Listed Jessop’s Edwardian building was demolished last summer by Sheffield University. We have the whole ugly process catalogued and in due course many photos and an extended version of an article which has already appeared in Hallamshire Historic Building’s The Cruck will appear.

If you want to see what the site looks like now, look here:

Edwardian Jessop’s occupied a slither on the far end of this.

This website won’t be going away, and will remain as an historical record and testament to the antics of the ‘bullyboys and philistines’ who let Sheffield, and listed buildings in general, down.

I’m following up on some of the pledgers who supported SAVE’s brave legal stand, which The Victorian Society joined in with too. I did a bad job of this first time round, but am getting on top of it now. This note is for the benefit of those I have just emailed – the ‘Paypal’ link at the top of this article can be used to make your donation, thanks. [Edit: this has been removed]

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Brief encounter with Sheffield University VC, Sir Keith Burnett

Walking with my son through Sheffield City Centre, Jessop’s Grade II listed Edwardian building not far from my thoughts, demolition imminent,  it was a bit odd to realise I had just walked past the Vice Chancellor of Sheffield University.

N.R    Sir Keith?
K.B    Yes?
N.R    Nick Roscoe…I’ve been involved in the Jessops campaign…   Sorry to disturb you, but I’ve just walked past and noticed you and as I’ve been trying to meet you without success I thought I might as well try and take this opportunity

K.B   (looks at watch)   10 minutes.. sorry but I’m meeting my wife!
N.R. Would it be OK to talk for 10 minutes?
K.B   Well more like 5 minutes really, sorry but..
N.R   …Even 5minutes -that would be brilliant
K.B.   Really sorry but…
N.R    Would it be OK if I walked along with you for a few minutes?
K.B    Gestures forwards

Sir Keith did speak for a couple of minutes, but the conversation was quickly curtailed. He was doing his best not to be drawn into discussion on any particular detail and just kept returning to the point that the planners approved it, almost as if it was the planners who had pushed this through.  I could have asked a million things, this was what came out in the two minutes I had – sorry I didn’t ask about his thoughts for the feelings of thousands of people in Sheffield.

NR: It’s difficult to know where to start. One thing I’m very curious about is your position on the architectural and historical merits of the building. I don’t know if you genuinely believe the building has no architectural or historical merit, or if this is a position that has been adopted in order to achieve your ends?

K.B. (not really answering the question)  It was a balanced view… We were told that overall the benefits to the city in terms of a lot of building work and jobs created for that and other benefits made it worthwhile

N.R. Are you aware that the University commissioned an historical report in 2008, written by a historian working for RMJM, who wrote in no uncertain terms about the historical and architectural merits of the building?

KB Raises eyebrows and doesn’t answer.

K.B. We worked on the basis of the advice that was given to us about the value of the building and that was that on balance it was a worthwhile thing to do.

N.R. Are you aware the that planners were strongly against these proposals? Having looked through emails via FOI that seems very clear. What seems critical, was a meeting that took place between yourself and John Mothersole – you seem to have managed to apply a bit of pressure there and got your own way after that?

K.B. Not at all. That was a meeting purely about process, about discussing how things would be done and the different options that were available……     It’s not my decision. It was the planners’ decision to allow this. The planners advised that on balance this was the right thing to do.

N.R. It IS your decision. You managed to get what you wanted out of the planning process but it’s up to you now what you do with the building. You must have seen the letter from the planning officers condemning the proposals? The planners involved in processing this application were strongly opposed to it, it was only the most senior staff that finally pushed this through.

K.B. We followed all the rules with this, we took the advice we were given and we consulted with the public, things were done properly.

N.R. Are you aware of the precedent you are creating for listed buildings?

K.B. Now that’s not true at all…

N.R. …It is true…

K.B. (Interrupting and parting ways) I’m sorry but I’m going to have to meet my wife now – you’re a good man, but I don’t want to argue about this.

And off he went.

(Will update this later with more discussion about the critical role of that 13th July 2012 meeting with Chief Executive John Mothersole.)

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Last Chance to Save Jessops Edwardian building

So far we have gone through the planning system measures, Eric Pickles did not call the application in and then SAVE Britain’s Heritage and the Victorian Society also took legal measures to ask for a judicial review of these plans.  As hoarding is now being erected around the building time is very much against us.  The only people who can stop demolition now are the very people who first approved these plans, the governors of Sheffield University.  At that time The Council of Sheffield University will have been presented with a proposal set up in certain terms which could not have anticipated the level of intrigue and public outcry involved in the approval of this application.

This article will hopefully point the governors of Sheffield University towards the long trail of evidence which they may not be aware of, as we appeal to them to intervene before irreparable damage to the building is done.

A new petition (in addition to the 4963 signature one to Eric Pickles) has been created.  At time of writing , 1.45pm, day one, the petition has attracted 714 signatures.  Here is the petition:


Here is the last petition to Eric Pickles – please read through the comments on these petitions.   http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/rt-hon-eric-pickles-secretary-of-state-save-sheffield-s-grade-ii-listed-edwardian-jessop-hospital-building-2

Important references in the current petition are:

Letter from Sheffield City Council Planning Dept to the University Representative

Email from Head of Urban Design and Conservation showing views had not changed, only the role of senior planning officers, now prepared to ‘tweak’ the planning report, when, before a meeting 13th July, they had signed off the letter from the council.

Independent historical report commissioned by the University 2008 (this link is on dropbox, HQ version, or you can access this doc on the planning site: search for jessops, look for the 3rd doc with ‘LBC’ in reference, click on this then then ‘docs’ tab, you need to go to the appendix of the ‘Heritage Statement’,where this docs has been tucked away, very uncomfortably.

Allocation in the City Development Plan

extract from 2010 City Development Plan- conditions laid down to protect Edwardian building

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Court of Appeal decision

Sorry to say it is not good news. We got to the court of appeal, we did everything we could do, but were faced with a fairly ‘keen on the establishment’ and set in his ways planning judge who took the lead between the two judges and thought everything was just tickety boo with the University’s claims of ‘World Leading’ status, of needing JUST 19500 sq metres to achieve their ‘brief’, and that planning officers had carefully weighed up the public benefit options.

There was a concession made on the correct analysis of Paragraph 133 of the National Planning Policy Framework, where the judges accepted that planners should be careful to distinguish the public benefit obtained by demolition per se, rather than by attending simply to the benefits of the whole scheme. That of course would also imply that public benefits of keeping the building were properly considered and balanced (bearing in mind the importance that is supposed to attach to preserving a listed building). That is some achievement in an ongoing debate which will hopefully help to focus discussion in any other future abuses of this clause.

It was sad, but not surprising given time constraints, that the judges then deferred to the judgement of the authors of the planning report and considered that they had attended to this difference, when it is clear that the University certainly had provided no such analysis. The option of retaining the building was dismissed by the University in 6 paragraphs of their ‘Heritage Statement’ (and some graphics which could have been done by a cgi architect on work experience). That option didn’t meet their requirements (framed of course to logically exclude the possibility of keeping the building).

There were no extra costs for the Court of Appeal hearing – to everyone who donated and pledged – your support really did tip it for SAVE who pushed ahead and were able to negotiate no more extra costs for SAVE and VS on the day. For that you should be proud – so much better to be able to say we did try everything, to see something like this through to the end and not stand down.

To all who have donated- -thanks! To those who pledged, if you would still like to help these organisations deal with the £10,000 loss that was incurred last week -that would be very welcome. It would give them the knowledge that, where necessary, they can step in and take legal action for Sheffield’s heritage and count on us to stand behind them.


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The Jessop Fighting Fund

FUND UPDATE=£2601 Tues 1pm

SAVE and The Victorian Society were given 7 days to appeal the decision last Thursday in the High Court that prevented them from taking the plan for needless demolition of Jessop’s Grade II listed Edwardian building to judicial review.

Everyone involved in this – SAVE Britain’s Heritage, The Victorian Society and their legal team (leaders in this field) are convinced that there IS a case, but those two voluntary organisations had to pay out £10,000 costs last week to the Uni+Council’s slew of barristers (ours are doing this on ‘no-win no fee’).  This is a heavy hit for small voluntary organisations (SAVE have two paid staff in a shared office).  They can’t afford those losses again.

There are 5000 petition signatories and thousands of people on Facebook and Twitter who have shown how much anger there is about this.

Please can we all take this to the final stage together?   £10000 is a lot – that is the amount that we know would guarantee we go forward. We might not need that much -it depends what the lawyers can negotiate – but to be sure we can go to the next stage we need approaching that amount. THIS CAN BE DONE! This is the last chance and it is so important to be able to say we tried everything. This should go to judicial review.

You can give donations or pledges. Pledging means we won’t ask you to pay anything unless the target is met and your donation is needed. To pledge please simply email your name, address and the amount you can pledge to pledge@jessophospital.org.uk.

BUT if you are just happy to help get this going now and put something towards this which will go to these two important charities and you will not ask for your money back, even if we don’t raise enough, then please can you donate now?  SAVE Britain’s Heritage and The Victorian Society have already been hit hard by this, and what you donate will count towards our £10,000 total which we’ll get showing up very soon.

You can donate here:

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We’re not giving up yet

On Thursday 27th June Mr Justice Supperstone refused permission for a judicial review of this case.  SAVE Britain’s Heritage and The Victorian Society have been granted 7 days, that is, until Thursday 4th July to lodge an appeal.  Until then an agreement is in place that Sheffield University can do no harm to the building.

We’re disappointed – but we are NOT giving up.  However SAVE and Vic Soc had to agree to pay costs of £10,000.   These are voluntary organisations running on very small funds.  SAVE Britain’s Heritage for example have two paid staff working in a shared office.   Their trustees have to consider the prospect that another loss such as this is equivalent to a part time members of staff for a year.

This scheme is unusually stark in terms of the planning laws it seeks to exploit on points of interpretation.  It is vital that the we can press on with this rare opportunity to challenge the type of interpretation of laws citing ‘public benefit’ which in the next few years, if left unbridled could see many Grade II listed buildings demolished.  We have two of the most respected organisations behind this but they are proceeding on very limited funds.  Sheffield University on the other hand are simply throwing money at the situation, as always.  There were 4 QCs and a junior barrister there for the other side yesterday, harping on about anything they could think of apart from the very issue at stake.  Their tactics, yesterday at least, did seem to work

Please watch this space – we plan to be announcing details later today of how the public can support this campaign with now very urgently needed donations.

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Injunction granted protecting Jessop Edwardian building

The high Court has granted an injunction against Sheffield University preventing it, or its partners, from demolishing the Grade II listed Edwardian Jessop Building.  SAVE Britain’s Heritage and the Victorian Society requested the injunction following an exchange with the University’s solicitors revealing they were not prepared to delay demolition pending the outcome of Judicial Review proceedings.

Sheffield University unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the injunction, arguing that a hearing in the courts about whether an injunction should be permitted was more appropriate.

“This is a positive step for our campaign,” said Nick Roscoe of the Save Jessop Hospital Campaign. “It shows that the courts are satisfied that, on the basis of initial representations, there is a possibility that justice would have been impeded if the Edwardian building is demolished.”

A hearing will now take place on Thursday 27th June at the High Court in London to determine whether a judicial review will be allowed.

Valerie Bayliss of the South Yorkshire Group of Victorian Society welcomed the development,  ” we continue to hope Sheffield University will consider seriously the options for a more sensitive use of the site that would respect the grade 2 listed building, which is a national asset.  Re-use of historic buildings is well-established in the UK, and Sheffield University know well how to re-use this building whilst securing them expansion in their facilities”

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SAVE and Victorian Society begin judicial review proceedings against Sheffield Council

SAVE and The Victorian Society have issued the following press release:

The Victorian Society and SAVE Britain’s Heritage have issued joint Judicial Review proceedings with the aim of saving the Grade II listed Edwardian Jessop Hospital building from demolition, that was granted to the University by Sheffield City Council.

The two conservation charities have started judicial review proceedings against Sheffield City Council’s decision.

The Council voted in March this year to approve Sheffield University’s plan to demolish the building despite local outcry and the objections of local and national conservation groups.   The Victorian Society and SAVE are applying for judicial review of the decision.

This is a robust test for National Planning Policy: SAVE and the Victorian Society represented by Susan Ring of Richard Buxton Environmental Law and Richard Harwood QC, are challenging the tests that were applied when balancing damage to a heritage asset against public benefits, as stipulated by the new Planning Policy. SAVE and the Victorian Society believe that the wrong tests were applied. This case will set an important precedent by clarifying how rigorously Councils have to weigh the loss of listed buildings under new planning guidelines.

SAVE and the Victorian Society believe that the building, a landmark in Sheffield, is eminently capable of re-use, like the Victorian block beside it that predates it by 25 years and is by the same architect. This is in use as a university building.

Jessop Women’s Hospital occupies a prominent site in the Sheffield townscape. It was built under the patronage of Thomas Jessop, one of Sheffield’s great industrial fathers, and designed by important regional architect John Dodsley Webster. It consists of two buildings, both by Webster, the latter of which is under threat. Both are in a distinctive Gothic Revival style, and complement each other well. Sheffield University bought the site from the NHS in 2001, demolishing all but the listed buildings by 2007.

“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.” SAVE Director Clem Cecil.

“It is sad that a learned institution like Sheffield University should be demolishing a cornerstone of its own city’s industrial and philanthropic history.   This is an ideal opportunity for the University to incorporate a fine example of Edwardian architecture into its new engineering building.  We hope that the University will change course, even at this late point,” said Chris Costelloe, Director of the Victorian Society.

Valerie Bayliss, Chair of the South Yorkshire Group of the Victorian Society and active in the campaign to save Jessop Hospital 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 for other listed buildings.”

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SAVE asks Sheffield University to reconsider ahead of possible legal action

SAVE Britain’s Heritage Director Clem Cecil confirmed on BBC Radio Sheffield Monday  29th April, that pre-application letters have been exchanged between Sheffield City Council and SAVE’s solicitors ahead of a possible Judicial Review of the decision to allow Sheffield University to demolish the Grade II Jessop Edwardian building.  You can listen to Clem Cecil’s interview below and there is also more comment in the Sheffield Telegraph here

SAVE on Radio Sheffield

This is of course brilliant news for the campaign to save the building. As concern continues to escalate and with national organisations now stepping in (with real clout – SAVE’s legal team have a formidable track record), the hope at this early stage is that Sheffield University can acknowledge they have been poorly advised and withdraw their application to demolish the building.  That would be a very difficult decision to make given all that has been invested in plans to date, but in terms of raising the profile of the University and ensuring they are remembered as an ethical and responsible partner with the community, it would be an astute move.  Moreover, at a national level, Sheffield University would be remembered as the University that ‘thought again’, before setting what could be a very dangerous precedent for the Nation’s Heritage.

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A ray of hope

A couple of days ago it really looked like the end of the road for our campaign and for the Jessop Edwardian building.  Something has changed though and suddenly there is some hope again.  SAVE Britain’s Heritage is a national campaigning charity which lives up to its name doing some fantastic work saving important buildings up and down the country. We are delighted and extremely grateful that SAVE are now stepping in to help our campaign and again, there is some hope that we can save this building.

SAVE Britains Heritage logo

For Sheffield the importance of the building to the City’s Heritage is obvious enough, but at a national level the principle at stake here cannot be over stated.  Our listing system must be zealously guarded and demolition of Grade II Listed buildings for little more than the sake of convenience of rich developers, such as Sheffield University, must not be tolerated.  As long as there is a way, we’ll keep fighting this – we’re just very grateful to SAVE for helping seek out some options.


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