Q&A – Myths debunked

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Sometimes we have to sacrifice the old for the new and make some space for progress.  This is sometimes true, but not in this case. No one is saying the University can’t build their new Engineering building. They can build their new building here, or elsewhere, but if they build it here they should include the Edwardian building as part of the new development.

But it would be very costly to include the Edwardian Wing in the new development.   In the scheme of things, no. The new development will generate huge profits for the University whether they preserve the Edwardian Wing as part of their development or not. According to University statements money has been put aside to renovate the Edwardian Wing. Costs of building materials are approximately 10% greater where the Edwardian Wing is preserved.

Why should the University have to pay 10% extra costs to keep a building which is not so special? It was only listed because it was attached to the Victorian Wing, which earned the listing.   Not True. When the Jessop Hospital was listed the 1940s wings, attached to the building, were left out of the listing because they weren’t good enough to be listed. The Edwardian wing, attached to the building, was – because it was good enough to keep.

…some people say English Heritage is not concerned about Edwardian Jessop’s, because they haven’t ‘called in’ the University’s application. Not so. English Heritage reviews applications about Grade 2* buildings – Jessop’s is Grade 2; buildings in a conservation area – Jessop’s isn’t; or where a demolition involves more than half of a listed building – bizarrely, Edwardian Jessop’s fails this test because it is less than half the entire remaining, listed, hospital building! You can see their letter on the Council’s website.

….some people say English Heritage has written the Edwardian building off because they think it isn’t worth keeping. Not True! In fact, it says that ‘in our view, the demolition of the Edwardian extension amounts to substantial harm to the significance of the listed hospital complex and as such, your authority should refuse consent unless it can be demonstrated that this substantial harm is necessary to achieve public benefits that outweigh this harm. ….there are clearly public benefits to be gained from the continued development of the engineering offer at the university, but these need to be carefully balanced against the substantial harm to the significance of the Jessop Hospital’ rising from demolition. It goes on ‘unless your authority is satisfied that the case set out by the applicants delivers substantial public benefits that outweigh the harm to the significance of the Jessop Hospital….this application should be refused on grounds of non-compliance with the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework’. You can read their letter on the Council’s website.

Has the University addressed this issue as it should?

No! -Its heritage statement, part of its planning application, simply ignores the significance of the building as a whole. Instead it relies on what it says is the Edwardian wing’s ‘lack of particular historical associations’, and its alleged poor state, to justify demolition. The state of the building is certainly not bad enough for that to count as justification for demolition, it is similar to the state of the Victorian wing before that was restored, and as the University says, it has kept the wing weather-tight. English Heritage says Jessop’s is ‘significant as an example of a purpose-built maternity hospital reflecting advances in women’s health care in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries’ (our emphasis).

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