Initially funded by charitable giving and local fundraising, there has been a hospital in Leeds since 1767. So, for around 250 years, hospitals in Leeds have led the way in offering patients of the city and surrounding Yorkshire area the very best treatment and care. Since 1862 when the initial commitments were put in place by the Infirmary Board to build a new hospital in Leeds to meet the needs of a fast expanding industrial city, there have been far reaching changes to the level of understanding and knowledge of medical practice. Hand in hand with this change, we have seen the rapid evolution of hospital design and practice to reflect not only the needs of medical science, but also the wider health and wellbeing of the patients who use hospital services.
The Leeds General Infirmary as we know it today is made up of a medley of interlinked premises from the iconic Sir George Gilbert Scott designed buildings, commissioned in 1868, with notable additions including the modern Martin and Jubilee wing buildings, the latter accommodating a helipad used by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. The condition and inflexibility of the healthcare estate (including also the St. James Hospital site located across the city, parts of which dates back to 1846) presents significant challenges in meeting 21st century healthcare needs.
The Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust’s Hospitals for the Future Project is delivering two new hospitals in one building at the Leeds General Infirmary – one for adults and a new home for Leeds Children’s Hospital and the UK’s largest single-site maternity centre. the scheme is part of the Government’s commitment to build 40 new hospitals by 2030.
Early design of the new Leeds adults and children hospital building
Credit: Perkins & Will/ Penoyre Prasad and Schmidt Hammer Lassen. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
The Trust employs 20,000 staff and each year and within the city provides care for more than 130,000 inpatients across 2,000 beds and coupled with this sees more than 100,000-day case patients each year and annually delivers over 1.15m outpatient appointments. Across two A&E Departments, the Trust’s sees over 200,000 ambulance attendances and over 200 air ambulance visits in addition to those who self-present at A&E.
With a clear clinical strategy, a process of reconfiguring the estate has now begun. Lichfields obtained outline planning permission in 2020 for the Gilling Dodd designed new Leeds hospital development, and as part of a wider architectural and technical team led by Perkins & Will, Penoyre Prasad and Smidt Hammer Lassen architects, is now working towards the submission and approval of detailed proposals which will see the delivery of a leading, internationally renowned state of the art facility to deliver clinical needs and research throughout the 21st Century.
The development will bring together specialist paediatric and maternity services, which are currently spilt across the city. Centralising the services under one roof for the first time will keep families together and enable the Trust to provide integrated family care. Patient care and wellbeing is at the centre of the design with all wards orientating toward the outdoors, maximizing exposure to daylight and good views. Green spaces are an important part of the design, including a new public plaza outside the hospital and garden terraces throughout, with planting inspired by the regional environment.
The new hospitals development will also seek to improve access for patients, staff and visitors as well as supporting the redevelopment of a large city centre site that will open up local communities that are currently separated by the impermeability of the hospital buildings, consolidating also parking through the creation of a new multi storey car park which will provide for an increase in the number of car parking spaces available for patients.
Cutting-edge twin technology will be used to track the building’s energy performance and other technology will reduce administrational processes helping to increase the amount of time medical and care staff can spend with patients. With embedded systems and controls the new hospitals will be SMART buildings. Sustainability sits at the heart of the new hospitals’ design, aiming for net zero operational carbon and minimising embedded carbon, conservation of resource and the use of nature-based design solutions, the new hospitals will adopt an approach which could never have been contemplated even in more recent times, certainly not in the earlier days of medical care in the city.
The new hospitals development proposals are part of a much larger redevelopment and economic regeneration opportunity for Leeds. The new hospitals and existing infirmary is located within the city centre in the heart of the Leeds Innovation Arc, which is a strategic intent of the Leeds Teaching Trust, the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds City Council to use their knowledge, assets and partnerships as a catalyst to accelerate innovation and economic growth throughout the city.
Those parts of the existing hospital estate at the infirmary now outdated and which will become vacated will create a unique regeneration opportunity. The additional benefit of safeguarding those buildings of conservation importance for future uses including the Sir George Gilbert Scott listed buildings. The ambition is to create a new world-class hub for health research and life sciences, but there is the potential for business, residential and hotel accommodation, resulting in economic regeneration and employment benefits.
Leeds General Infirmary, Gilbert Scott Building
The Leeds city region has much to look forwards to, with an exemplar standard of hospital design and medical provision to the latest technological standards. The development will also act as a catalyst for regeneration, attracting new med tech and related research to the Leeds Innovation Arc, with the added benefit of safeguarding repurposed buildings of conservation and heritage importance.
Lichfields has built an enviable track record assisting in the delivery of significant healthcare projects all around the UK and is proud to be helping deliver the Leeds General Infirmary enhancements and those at St James’ Hospital. Some 100 years after the concept for the Leeds General Infirmary, Lichfields was itself established and now 60 years later, we work on the most prestigious proposals providing local knowledge and innovation in delivery of schemes across the sectors, no more so than within the healthcare sector.
After 60 years of success in the planning and development industry, we now look forward to a more sustainable future, as we work towards becoming a net zero carbon business. The pandemic has been a poignant reminder of our wider social responsibilities and our need to support a better and more resourced and modern health service.
We look forward to another 60 years of creating high quality environments for future generations!