Leeds General Infirmary
Demolition is to commence of the Former Nurses Homes at the Leeds General Infirmary:
I genuinely thought Leeds City Council would manage to negotiate the retention of the more ornate portions of this building.
I had personaly campaigned to get some of the building included in the revised listing of the hospital campus. Unfortunately, this was not to be, and we will unecessarily lose a stunning bricked frontage in the city centre, to be replaced by an elevation that does not relate to the street.
It has been a highly emotive dialogue, and a lot of ire has been directed at the conservation lobby for valuing heritage over childrens hospital facilities. Social provisions for vulnerable children are vital and I can see why the citizenry of Leeds decried any motion that could prejudice the arrival of this new facility. However, I have always reasoned that both requirments could be satisfied with adequate design skills. The decision being made at plans panal, I can not imagine any of the politicians voting would risk the optics associated with questioning the delivery of a new childrens hospital.
It is also concerning that Heritage England and The Victorian Society fully objected to the loss of these buildings, and their consultation appears to have been given no weight in the decision. Heritage England also showed concern for the presidence this sets – should other hospital buildings be deemed redundant, will they also be lost?
The last point I should make is directed towards the architects, Golling Dod. When every other actor in this process has overlooked the potential to retain the hertiage buildings it is almost understandable, with hospotal delivery being an excerise in balance sheets. But the design professionals tasked with making the most of this site should be tabling a strategy that demonstrates how heritage can be integrated into a new facility, and add value to proposals. It was encumbant on the architects here to offer a creative and inspiring concept. Instead we have a design that is wholly generic. Reflection is needed.