The surgeon who delivered Prince George has hailed a deal to preserve an historic hall that he feared was threatened by plans for a new cancer centre.
Sir Marcus Setchell led a celebrity-backed campaign to save the 300-year-old Great Hall at St Bartholomew’s hospital amid concerns of the impact of building a £5 million Maggie’s cancer centre alongside.
But a compromise deal was announced last Friday that will allow the modernist cancer support centre to be built – with a vow from hospital bosses to refurbish and protect the hall.
Sir Marcus, who was backed by actors including Dame Eileen Atkins, Edward Fox and Greg Wise, said the deal provided a “golden opportunity” to secure the future of the hall. It is part of the Grade 1-listed North Terrace at Bart’s and features two giant Hogarth medical murals on its staircase.
“We are pleased that all parties have recognised that the Great Hall’s needs must be met for it to survive and flourish,” Sir Marcus said. “This agreement provides the golden opportunity to get [these] architectural gems fit for purpose and bring them to life for all to enjoy and treasure.”
Sir Marcus had threatened to seek a judicial review to block the Maggie’s plans after they received planning permission from the City of London Corporation in July. He dubbed hospital bosses “philistines” for, in his view, failing to protect the historic nature of the 900-year-old site in Smithfield.
The design of the cancer centre will now be modified to allow the hall to share some of its facilities.
Laura Lee, chief executive of Maggie’s, said: “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.
“St Bartholomew’s Hospital sees over 5,500 new cancer diagnoses a year, so there is a crucial need for the programme of support the new Maggie’s Centre will offer.”