Green light for pioneering research centre

30 January 2018

Research into revolutionary new treatments for conditions including leukaemia, diabetes and cancer has taken a giant step forward after Camden Council gave the green light for construction work on a new pioneering institute to commence.

The Pears Building will be home to the University College London (UCL) Institute of Immunity and Transplantation based on the campus of the Royal Free Hospital.

Funded by the Royal Free Charity, the institute will be one of five leading centres of its kind across the globe bringing scientists and clinicians together to research revolutionary new treatments.

The unique co-location of NHS care and university research means that patients, nurses, clinicians and scientists can easily work together to accelerate the development of new therapies for patients.

Planning permission for the Pears Building was granted by Camden Council in April 2016, subject to a number of legal obligations being met. Council planners have confirmed that these requirements have been delivered by the Royal Free Charity.

The council has now discharged all pre-commencement obligations associated with the planning permission and works may commence on site. The institute will open in 2020.

Chris Burghes, chief executive of the Royal Free Charity, said: “We have worked hard to reassure the council that we are doing everything possible to meet the necessary requirements, and we are really pleased that they have approved our plan. We can’t wait to start this exciting project which will bring real benefit to the Royal Free London, UCL and the wider NHS.”

Sir David Sloman, chief executive of the Royal Free London group, said: “This is a landmark moment for the Royal Free London and for research into conditions which have a huge impact on the lives of so many people. Our trust has a history of innovation and leading the way in many areas of the science and delivery of healthcare and this institute will continue that proud tradition.”

Professor Hans Stauss, director of the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation, added: “We are delighted with this news, and we hope it will provide reassurance to our neighbours that we want to protect and enhance the local environment. UCL and the Royal Free Hospital are joining forces to lead the way in developing new medicines for NHS patients and to improve our understanding of human disease.”

The building is being funded not only by the Royal Free Charity, but by major donations including the Pears Foundation and by an award from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund.

The Pears Building, designed by leading architect Sir Michael Hopkins and Partners, will be a modern take on the old Hampstead Hospital which was founded on that site in 1882, being similar to it in scope and size. It will be in keeping with the unique architecture of Hampstead.