Plea to save historic Rotherham building

The former Doncaster Gate Hospital, Rotherham.
The former Doncaster Gate Hospital, Rotherham.

Heritage campaigners have launched a campaign to save a disused former South Yorkshire hospital.

Fears have been raised that Rotherham Council, which owns the old Doncaster Gate Hospital, could bulldoze the building after being unable to sell it to a private buyer.

A notice of demolition has been put up by the council outside the building – and a formal decision on whether to pull it down will be made by councillors at a cabinet meeting today.

An online petition has been launched by Rotherham Heritage Association to save the building, which has been signed by more than 750 people in its first day.

Eileen Hyland, of Rotherham Heritage Association, said: “This landmark building was built from money raised by ordinary Rotherham people. It is a vital part of Rotherham’s heritage and defines the character of Doncaster Gate, and for the council to now quietly put up a notice of demolition on a lamppost without any public consultation is an insult to the people of Rotherham.”

Valerie Bayliss, who chairs the Victorian Society’s South Yorkshire group, which also battled demolition of the listed Edwardian Wing of Sheffield’s former Jessop Hospital, added: “It is very sad that, having agreed as long ago as 2008 that Doncaster Gate Hospital should be included in the Town Centre Conservation area, Rotherham Council is now going back on its word and against the judgment of its planning officers.”

Karl Battersby, Rotherham Council’s director for environment and development services, said the property had been for sale since May 2012 and no offers had been received.

He said: “The council also has no use for the building.

“We are now being forced to consider demolition because the condition of the building is generally poor with extensive damp, rot and asbestos. In addition there has been theft of lead flashings from the roof and a substantial amount of vandalism damage, making it unsafe.

“A former application for listed status in 2009 was rejected by English Heritage, which concluded the building was not of sufficient special architectural or historic interest to merit listing. Demolition will save the council £90,000 per year in maintenance costs and business rates.”

■ Visit Save Doncaster Gate Hospital to sign the petition.