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Legal challenge dropped as Maggie’s agrees to change Holl scheme

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Maggie’s has reached an agreement with the group campaigning against its controversial Steven Holl-designed centre at St Bart’s

The deal between Maggie’s and Barts Health NHS Trust and its main opponents, the Friends of the Great Hall, will see the consented designs tweaked internally with access to toilets in the cancer care centre opened up for those using the hall.

Marcus Setchell, the retired gynaecologist who delivered Prince George and who heads the Friends group, had claimed that Holl’s approved proposals would have a massively detrimental impact on the hospital’s Grade I*-listed hall.

Challenging the City of London’s decision to back the Holl-designed cancer care centre, Setchell argued that the planners had failed to take into account the ‘significant harm the development would cause to the 800-year-old UNESCO-listed site’.

The three parties have been through a formal arbitration process to come to a compromise over the development.

The resulting alternative design will see shared facilities incorporated into the Maggie’s Centre to support the operation of the listed Great Hall.

Changes will be made internally to the Maggie’s Centre scheme which won’t effect the existing planning application. These include opening up access from the North Block onto the centre’s secondary staircase to provide wheelchair access into the Great Hall. Toilets for those using the hall will also be added into the centre’s previously unused basement space.

While Barts Health NHS Trust has also agreed to incorporate additional facilities within planned work on another building adjoining the North Wing.

According to the City of London, the new plans ‘facilitate both the heritage vision for the long-term restoration and preservation of the historic North Wing and the delivery of a Maggie’s Centre.’ It added both plans will now ‘progress side-by-side’.

Peter Morris, chief executive of Barts Health NHS Trust said: ‘This agreement now enables us to take forward the development of the much needed Maggie’s Centre on the St Bartholomew’s Hospital site. The agreement also demonstrates our commitment to the rich heritage of Barts and securing the long-term future of the historic North Wing.’

Laura Lee, chief executive of Maggie’s added: ‘I am absolutely delighted that we have found a solution that works well for all parties and that we can move forwards with the important work of supporting people with cancer across North East London.’

Marcus Setchell, chairman of The Friends of The Great Hall and Archive of St Bartholomew’s Hospital added: ‘Barts has been uniquely fortunate in having the grade I-Listed Great Hall, its Square and Fountain, and an amazing historic collection of art and archives at its cultural heart for nearly 300 of its 900 years of history. 

This agreement is a golden opportunity to get the Gibbs architectural gems fit for purpose

‘As well as general maintenance, the heritage buildings desperately need updated and enhanced facilities, and a programme of restoration and conservation, in order to serve the Hospital, its patients, staff and visitors into the 21st century. Barts is again showing its ability to balance innovative modern care and medical treatment in a richly cultural healing environment, and the Friends are proud to be a part of this. This agreement provides a golden opportunity to get the James Gibbs architectural gems fit for purpose and bring them to life for all to enjoy and treasure.’

The scheme has had a troubled history. Maggie’s original proposals were originally rejected by the City last June (AJ 04.06.13) – the first time in the charity’s 18-year history one of its schemes had been turned down.

In response, and in an attempt to appease the objectors, the American architect moved the ‘lantern-like lightweight building’ away from the listed Great Hall and it scraped through planning by 11 votes to 10 in July (AJ 17.06.14).

But the Friends argued that the planning committee ‘had failed to recognise its responsibilities’ towards the existing, historic structures and had not looked at viable alternatives - including a rival plan drawn up by Hopkins for the Friends which won approval in April this year. Hopkins’ proposal included moving the Maggie’s centre further away from James Gibbs 1738 hall.


Hopkins asked by the NHS Trust to look at heritage buildings at Barts identifying ‘essential improvements’ to the Great Hall, in James Gibbs’ 1738 North Wing, next to the 1960s finance block.

April 2010
Maggie’s invited by NHS Trust to create plans for a centre at Barts. Site confirmed, consultation begins. Steven Holl appointed.

February 2011
Trust Board approves Maggie’s Centre at Barts.

Mid 2012
Hopkins appointed by Friends of the Great Hall to draw up alternative plans to Holl’s proposals. Holl reveals first sketches.

February 2013
Holl submits plans for centre, which includes access from hall for toilets. Scheme recommended for approval. The Friends object.

June 2013
Holl’s Maggie centre rejected by planners. Maggie’s withdraw application.

July 2013
Donald Insall Associates appointed directly by NHS Trust to look at how Great Hall can be ‘self-sufficient’ and sit alongside Holl scheme.

February 2014
Trust Board reconfirm support for Maggie’s Centre. Hopkins submits rival plans on behalf of Friends for new cores on ends of North Wing.

March 2014
As landowners the Trust writes in objection to the Hopkins application.

April 2014
Holl submits revised plans. Trust board supports revised scheme. Hopkins wins planning for rival plans.

June 2014
Trust outlines vision for the future of the Great Hall.

July 2014
City of London set to hear Holl’s new plans.

July 2014
Holl wins planning for revised Maggie’s Centre scheme.

August 2014
Marcus Setchell, chairman of the Friends of the Great Hall, launches judicial review against the decision to award planning to Holl’s design.


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