A LEGAL wrangle has broken out over rival plans for developments
at St Bartholomew's Hospital (Barts) in London.
The charitable trust Maggie's wants to build a £5-million cancer
counselling centre at the hospital in the City of London. But
campaigners seeking to preserve the 18th-century Great Hall in its
Grade I listed north wing say that the plans will block their own
designs for restoring the hall and the adjacent church of St
Bartholomew the Less as a heritage centre.
Both plans have been approved by the City of London, but Sir
Marcus Setchell, the leader of the Save Barts Great Hall Campaign,
has sought a judicial review of the planning permission given to
Maggie's. The presiding High Court judge has frozen the permission
for six months and asked both sides to find a solution through
Sir Marcus says that the Great Hall requires urgent repairs in
order to protect scenes of charity and healing by the 18th-century
artist William Hogarth sited on its grand staircase. Maggie's has
rejected his suggestion of moving the new centre 20 metres from the
proposed location so that it will not obstruct construction of
"bussles" on the north wing's flanks to meet hygiene, access, and
Sir Marcus said: "It's disheartening to see the debate about the
two proposals reduced to an either/or decision. Under our plans,
Barts could have both a Great Hall that is no longer a burden on
the NHS and a Maggie's Centre with its helpful counselling
Supporters of his campaign include the historian Dr David
Starkey, the chairman of the National Trust, Sir Simon Jenkins, and
the director of the Courtauld Gallery, Professor Deborah
But the chief executive of Maggie's, Laura Lee, accused Sir
Marcus of putting forward a "vacuous argument", and said that the
centre was backed by cancer doctors and patients. "I'm surprised
that the [Friends'] campaign think that the Maggie's Centre will in
some way jeopardise the future of the Great Hall," she said. "We
have worked very closely with the planning department and Barts'
board to ensure our proposals in no way jeopardise it."
A Barts Health NHS Trust spokesperson said: "With 5500 new
cancer diagnoses a year at Barts, we are anxious to have this new
centre open as soon as possible. As has been our commitment
throughout this process, we will continue to work with the Friends
of the Great Hall on our plans to maintain and develop the Great
Hall for future generations to enjoy."