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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