Jessop verdict is ‘threat to other old buildings’

Sheffield University's planned new �80 million engineering block on the former Jessop Hospital site.'Pictured is the proposed building at corner of Broad Lane and St George's Terrace.

Sheffield University's planned new �80 million engineering block on the former Jessop Hospital site.'Pictured is the proposed building at corner of Broad Lane and St George's Terrace.

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CONSERVATIONISTS expressed their fears this week for other historic buildings in Sheffield after the Government’s all-clear for the demolition of the Edwardian Wing of the former Jessop Hospital.

Howard Greaves, of the Hallamshire Historic Buildings Society, said it was “a very bad day for Sheffield. This will open the door for any developer who now wishes to knock down an old building. They can use this as a yardstick.

“It is also makes you think: ‘What’s the point of the listing system?’ It turns out to be a toothless tiger.”

The Campaign to Save Jessop Hospital said the old wing was “a much-loved building”.

A spokesperson said: “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”.

It would be “totally out of keeping with the surrounding area, which includes the grade II listed St George’s Church and Mappin Building. We keep our fingers crossed that the university does not decide it wants to get rid of them too”.

Campaign members remain convinced that the university could accommodate the engineering faculty without getting rid the old building.

The university said it had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on plans trying to include the Edwardian facade, but it was not practical in terms of securing the amount of space required.

The new complex is part of a £154m programme for engineering, which includes refurbishment and preservation of the grade II listed Mappin Building.

“We are committed to investing in a high quality, stunning building which will not only be the centrepiece for the faculty of engineering continued success, but will also be a source of enormous pride for the city,” said the university’s director of estates and facilities management, Keith Lilley. Prof Mike Hounslow, head of the University’s Faculty of Engineering, said: “The faculty continues to grow and to attract students from all over the UK and beyond because of our reputation for top class teaching and research.

“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 to carry out their business here.”

The university estimates that the Jessop complex - due to be fully operational by 2016 - will contribute more than £20m a year to the local economy.