Q&A – Myths debunked



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).

5 Responses to Q&A – Myths debunked

  1. linda grantham says:

    if companies (people) do not want to keep these beautiful buildings which give character to our towns, cities, villages they should not buy them or the land on which they stand. in any case what do you expect from a council (with such a large labour contingent) giving permission for this building to be destroyed and replaced by such a hideous replica of a building in paris.

    • paul says:

      I think pointing the finger at ‘labour’ is missing the point, and an exercise in cheap party political point scoring, actually Linda! Eric Pickles – which party is he in..? He could’ve stopped this thing dead, and he didn’t. But what do you expect ..?

  2. Phil Riley says:

    I agree with Linda on this
    When we travel to other cities around the world, many of us comment about the wonderful old buildings these cities have.
    For this reason alone, this building should be retained.
    Sheffield is a city with history……. Keep it, don’t destroy it
    Why destroy a character building only to replace it with something which will probably never last as long as what’s removed.
    Modern housing and buildings rarely match what was built years ago

  3. John Brown says:

    There is a blatant disregard for present buildings around the proposal. Apart from the Victorian Wing of the former hospital a fine Victorian Gothic church (St George’s) sits opposite the site. Basic “good manners” in building within a townscape defers to materials and scale. The proposed building ignores both and sits as a wilful aesthetic concerned only with itself and its designers. Red brick and stone are faced down with an apparent lattice construction which wilfully denies the verically and horizontality of adjacent elevations in equal measure by presenting diagonals. There is an arrogance here where deference to the fabric of the present buildings would be more appropriate. The University are demonstrably saying to the City “never mind your heritage, we dictate your future”. In approving this building the City have missed an opportunity to teach one of its more illustrious institutions some manners.

  4. Richard Page says:

    I think successive Labour councils in Sheffield have got a lot to answer for regarding neglect and demolition of Sheffield’s heritage, character and attractive old buildings. We’ve been left with a lot of modern rubbish (national chain stores, supermarkets, ugly blocks of flats and offices, car parks and road schemes – and more seems to be on the way with Sevenstones (or whatever replaces it) and redevelopment of The Moor and of the Castle Market area. Regarding the university, I’d like to know more about what they did, in liaison with the Council’s officers, to consider other locations such as the Lower Don Valley. Lecturers and other senior staff at the university won’t like it because they will have further to travel. But a big university engineering department in the LDV would have good public transport (inc trams to other university buildings), be close to existing successful steel, engineering and high tech firms, and might help to make Sheffield Arena and sports facilities in the LDV better used and more viable. Why have we got so much of the university built in one rather cramped location / area with resulting traffic, parking and student accommodation pressures? The same could be said of the (now not so) modern Hallamshire and other hospital buildings close by, which need redeveloping or relocating. If hospital services were relocated maybe the university could make use of some of those sites. What are the Council’s vision, strategy and plans for the future location of university and hospital buildings? In the context of the wider needs of Sheffield and its people and Council services, are the buildings in the right place? Where’s the joined-up thinking and planning?

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