Campaigners urge hospital to relocate transplant centre
- Credit: Harry Taylor
St Stephen’s Church and Hampstead Hill School campaigners are asking the Royal Free Hospital to consider an alternate site for the proposed Pears Building research centre, to avert any damage to the historic building.
At a public meeting on Tuesday held at the former church by the chairman of the St Stephen’s Trust Michael Taylor, attendees said a site on the corner of Fleet Road and Lawn Road, on the other side of the hospital would be more suitable.
Former deputy headteacher and campaigner Linda Grove was one of those to back the idea. She said: “If it goes onto Fleet Road, then it won’t affect St Stephens, and will still be close to the Royal Free. It could also have some sort of uplift for the area with regeneration.”
During a presentation at the start of the meeting, Mr Taylor repeated concerns in a recent report by St Stephen’s Trust that piling walls for construction could cause groundwater underneath the school to dam up and lead to the ground slipping.
Around 30 attendees at the meeting, including residents and local councillors, insisted that they weren’t against the concept of the building, or that it would be in Hampstead, but that they didn’t want the church put in danger.
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Resident Jane Lyons said: “We don’t disagree with the building, and we’re happy to have it here. But what we don’t want is any risk to the school and the site.”
Hampstead Town Councillor Oliver Cooper also slammed Camden Council’s planning department, and said that it wasn’t a case of St Stephen’s against the NHS. “The planning department are too opaque, don’t listen to residents views enough and are sometimes secretive. It isn’t about the Royal Free, it is about St Stephens against Camden planning department.”
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Organiser Mr Taylor was happy about the meeting.
He said: “At this time of year with it being cold, I didn’t expect many but I was pleased because the people who came were important, we had a governor from the Royal Free, Maria Higson, and a parent from the school.”
However in closing the meeting, he showed no signs of giving up the fight. “If they don’t listen to us, then what I have spent my last twenty years working on may end up as a heap of bricks.”