CAMPAIGNERS say they are “deeply disappointed” as an Edwardian former hospital building is set to be bulldozed to make way for an £81m “centrepiece” university development.
Eric Pickles, the secretary of state for communities and local government, has decided not to call in the planning permission granted by Sheffield Council to build Sheffield University’s new engineering building.
The development, which can now go ahead, will involve the demolition of the Edwardian wing of the former Jessop Hospital for Women, close to Sheffield’s Brook Hill roundabout,.
A spokesman for Sheffield University said yesterday that they welcomed the news and added that the new engineering building will “open the door to growth and investment, making a huge contribution to the Sheffield and regional economy.”
However, Valerie Bayliss, from the Campaign to Save Jessop Hospital said the group was “deeply disappointed” at the decision.
She added: “There is no prospect of any review of the decision, let alone a public enquiry, which we believe is justified before a building like Jessops is bulldozed.
“We expect that Sheffield University will now press ahead with the demolition of this much-loved building.
“Its statutory listing was supposed to protect it, but has proved no defence against the claims of an aggressive and overweening new building.
“Many people in Sheffield will be amazed, and far from pleased, when they see the university’s new engineering block - five storeys of glass and metal, crowding every inch of the site, which even Sheffield Council’s planning and conservation staff told councillors on the planning committee is totally out of keeping with the surrounding area.”
Mrs Bayliss went on: “The campaign remains convinced that the university could meet its needs for new engineering faculty space without removing forever a significant part of the city’s environmental and historic capital.
“We know the over 4,000 people who signed the petition against demolition will be as sad as we are today.
“And we believe far more Sheffielders will soon be asking hard questions about who allowed this to happen, and why.”
Keith Lilley, director of estates and facilities management at the university, said that the “vital new building” would be the “centrepiece of the university’s development plans over the next decade.”
He added that the building will be the centrepiece for a £154m in the university’s engineering estate, which also includes refurbishment of the Grade Two-listed Mappin Building.
Mr Lilley said: “We are committed to investing in a high-quality, stunning building which will not only be the centrepiece for the faculty of engineering’s continued success, but will also be a source of enormous pride for the city.”
Construction on the new development is expected to begin later this year, and the building should be open by 2016.
Sheffield University is expecting 1,600 additional engineering students by 2020, with around 400 additional staff being recruited to support the growth in the department.
Professor Mike Hounslow, head of Sheffield University’s faculty of engineering, said: ““The research we carry out in the faculty is translated into practical applications at the university’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, attracting world-class companies such as Boeing, Rolls Royce and Siemens.
“This decision not only means we can start work on our fantastic new building, but also makes it possible for us to carry out an ambitious refurbishment programme to bring all our engineering estate up to standard.”