Sheffield hospital buildings face demolition ‘to save £350,000 per year’

The Water Tower at the hospital site

The Water Tower at the hospital site

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Conservationists have criticised plans to demolish 10 derelict buildings at the Northern General Hospital – some dating back more than 100 years.

Hospital chiefs say the plans will potentially save more than £350,000 per year in operating costs, with the money being reinvested into patient care.

Norwood Grange is facing demolition

Norwood Grange is facing demolition

If given the go-ahead by Sheffield Council planning bosses, it is expected the work will take more than six months to complete. It has not been revealed how much it will cost to carry out.

But the proposals are being opposed by Hallamshire Historic Buildings Society, who believe the properties are being removed to create extra car parking spaces.

The buildings due to be knocked down include a water tower, gardener’s apartment, a supplies store and a former electricity sub station.

Phil Brennan, director of estates at Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We do have due regard for buildings of significant historical interest on the hospital site demonstrated by the fact that we have maintained and repaired the old Clocktower building which is part of the main Northern General Hospital over recent years.

The gardeners' apartment at the hospital site

The gardeners' apartment at the hospital site

“However, our priority has to be to spend money in a way that has the largest benefits for our patients, and empty buildings which are no longer required are unfit for purpose and incur unnecessary maintenance and other operating costs as well as pose potential risks of arson and vandalism.

“We currently have a small number of predominantly old fashioned staff accommodation buildings which are in disrepair and cost over £350,000 a year to operate.

“The buildings are too far away from the rest of the hospital facilities such as theatres, intensive care and other wards to use for patients and the cost of bringing them even to a safe standard or repair would be significant which is why a planning application has been submitted to demolish the buildings.

“The demolitions will cause no disruption to patient care and there are currently no plans for an alternative use of the remaining land.

Chesterman House

Chesterman House

“The savings will be reinvested into patient care.”

But Howard Greaves, vice chairman of the Hallamshire Historic Buildings Society, said he believes some of the buildings targeted for demolition are worth saving.

He said among the sites being earmarked for demolition is Chesterman/Wycliffe House, a former children’s home which dates back to the late 19th century.

Mr Greaves said he appreciates there are car parking problems at the hospital, but this measure will not solve the problem.

A plaque on the Chesterman building

A plaque on the Chesterman building

He said: “We all know that there is a serious car-parking problem at the Northern General Hospital and I’m sure most of us have experienced the frustrating search for a space followed by the worry that you’ll not get back to your car before a ticket is slammed on it.

“The solution put forward by the NHS? A crazy decision to demolish eight historic buildings which will provide a few extra spaces but nowhere near enough.

“The cost of demolishing these eight buildings together with the preparation and resurfacing of the sites will be phenomenal with an end product which is merely tinkering with the problem.

“The buildings to be lost include the rare 1894 Water Tower, the Victorian stable block to the rear of the early 19th century Grade II listed Goddard Hall and the historic Norwood Grange.

“Also included is a pleasant and perfectly sound 1950s detached house.

“This is a serious slice of Sheffield’s architectural heritage which is about to disappear but as the buildings are not listed they have no protection.”