Two of London’s most famous teaching hospitals are locked in dispute over the sale of land in central London.
HSJ understands the governors of the Royal Marsden Hospital Foundation Trust have written to planning officers at the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea urging them to refuse change of use permission for land a neighbouring foundation trust aims to sell.
The Royal Brompton and Harefield wants to finance a rebuild by selling its Fulham Wing, along with five other central London parcels of land owned by the trust and its charity. The proposed change of use to residential property is expected to massively increase the site’s sale value.
But cancer specialist the Royal Marsden would like to buy the Fulham Wing from its near neighbour in Chelsea and says if the change were granted it would struggle to afford it.
The Royal Brompton counters that the new hospital it would build with the sale proceeds would have room for an expanded Marsden and it had offered 50,000 square feet of space to the cancer hospital, but this was rejected.
Royal Brompton chief executive Bob Bell told HSJ: “There is a contest going on here which is completely unnecessary and somewhat without taste. It is getting nastier.”
He said the £30m the site would fetch if sold to the Royal Marsden would leave his trust with insufficient capital to redevelop the rest of its site. He added that the Royal Brompton, which is a leading international heart and lung centre, would have to reconsider its future in Chelsea if the change of use was not granted.
But Royal Marsden chief executive Cally Palmer said her neighbour’s offer of space would “not be sufficient” for her trust’s clinical needs, and would “also be in the wrong place”.
She said if her trust obtained the Fulham Wing it would provide the space to expand its services and a direct physical link between the hospital and the Institute for Cancer Research, its academic partner.
Kensington and Chelsea Council is currently consulting on a “supplementary planning document” that will indicate whether a change of use permission will be granted.
Ms Palmer said in a statement: “The Royal Marsden believes that there is a wider point that goes beyond the needs of our hospital. We believe there is a way forward which takes the needs of both The Royal Marsden and the Royal Brompton into account and which will not adversely affect the Royal Brompton’s aspirations. These need to be discussed by all concerned.
“It is the view of The Royal Marsden that such a precious healthcare resource in this location should not be lost to residential use and we want to ensure that this opportunity for both hospitals to secure their long-term future is not missed.”