Letter: ‘Correct location’ chosen for Royal Free’s Pears Building
PUBLISHED: 11:50 14 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:11 14 December 2017
The Director of the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation, Professor Hans Strauss says the plans will safeguard surrounding buildings.
Since its establishment in 1828, the Royal Free Hospital has a proud history of innovation, leading the way in many areas of healthcare and advancing our understanding of illness.
When it opens in 2020, the Pears Building, which will be home to the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation, will continue that tradition.
The institute will be one of five leading centres across the globe, bringing scientists and clinicians together to research revolutionary new treatments for conditions including cancer and diabetes.
Of critical importance is the co-location of hospital services and university research laboratories, which brings together NHS patients, NHS doctors and some of the world’s leading scientists to develop new treatments at a greater pace.
This integration of patient care and research will accelerate medical innovation and give our patients access to novel therapies which are not available elsewhere.
The access to research studies and innovative treatments will be supported by having patient accommodation in the building for NHS patients, taking part in clinical trials, who do not require a hospital bed.
Carrying out research which is focused on gaining a better understanding of diseases to develop more effective treatments requires constant interaction between scientists, doctors, nurses and patients. The sharing of facilities, expertise and know-how is essential to achieve the shared goal of improving patient health.
We are therefore confident that we have chosen the correct location for the institute. In April 2016 Camden Council has approved the location and granted planning permission for the new building, subject to us meeting a number of obligations.
We have spent the last 18 months listening to our neighbours, local groups, residents and businesses. We have held 36 local meetings with over 500 people attending.
As a result we have rigorous plans in place. This includes over 150 monitors to highlight any potential structural impact that might occur from site activities to ensure that nearby buildings, including St Stephen’s, are not affected. We have also installed equipment below ground level to monitor site conditions such as ground movement, water levels and vibration.
We will be installing an acoustic barrier to prevent noise transfer from the construction site to the hospital and other local buildings. We also have plans in place to monitor road congestion and ensure construction vehicles stick to agreed routes.
Our construction plan has been assessed by two independent certified engineers who will advise Camden Council whether we have satisfied our obligations, before work can begin. Camden Council will also use their own independent assessor whose role is to help reassure everybody that we will not cause any damage to this valuable part of Hampstead.
The Pears Building is a modern take on the old Hampstead Hospital which was founded in 1882, matching it closely in scope and size.
We wanted a building which was architecturally significant and that is why we appointed a leading architect – Sir Michael Hopkins and Partners – to design a facility in keeping with the unique architecture of Hampstead.
I would like to thank the hundreds of people who have given us their views, and attended one of our many meetings, helping to shape an institute which will make a huge difference to the lives of so many.
Professor Hans Stauss is director of the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation