Plans for Oriel, Camden’s new eye care, research and education centre, have taken an important step forward today following the exchange of conditional sale contracts with Derwent London plc to purchase the City Road and Bath Street sites that are currently home to Moorfields Eye Hospital and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology in Islington.

The contract remains subject to some central Government approvals, but this milestone now secures an important funding source for the delivery of Oriel.

Oriel is the joint initiative between Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Charity that would see services move to a brand new integrated centre on the site of St Pancras Hospital. Harnessing the expertise of the partners under one roof in a new fit-for-purpose centre will enable closer collaboration between clinicians and researchers to speed up the delivery of treatments and therapies for patients.

Derwent London plc was selected as the preferred developer in December 2021 after a robust selection process which involved ensuring that redevelopment proposals will complement Islington Council’s ambitions for the area and contribute to wider socio-economic benefits for local residents and businesses. The next steps of the process will involve a public consultation exercise being undertaken by Derwent London plc involving the local community as part of the statutory planning process.

Martin Kuper, Chief executive of Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “This is an important step forward for our plans for Oriel, a new eye care, research and education centre. The sale of our City Road Island, which is conditional on treasury approval of Oriel, is a key element of our funding strategy. All proceeds will be reinvested in the new centre to secure the long-term future of world-leading eye care, research and education in a way that represents value for money and benefits our patients. We will continue to maintain our strong links with Islington Council as plans for City Road Island progress.”

Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences, said: “This is a significant step towards realising the Oriel joint initiative. Oriel will bring together UCL’s formidable research base with Moorfields’ world-class healthcare delivery in one integrated centre of research, education and care.”

Robert Dufton, Chief Executive at Moorfields Eye Charity, said: “We’re very pleased to reach this significant milestone in achieving Oriel which helps to secure investment in the new world-leading centre for eye health integrating research, patient care and education in a state-of-the-art building and benefitting people on a global scale. Philanthropy has a critical role to play in realising Oriel. We’re very grateful to donors who have committed their support and to those interested in hearing more.”

Alastair Perks, Head of London Development at CBRE, said: “Today’s exchange of conditional contracts marks the culmination of a highly successful marketing process, and now secures a significant funding contribution towards the delivery of Oriel. CBRE is proud to have supported this high-profile project and to have delivered an innovative solution to meet the client’s important objectives.

Oriel is part of a wider masterplan for the five-acre St Pancras Hospital site with plans being brought forward separately by King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP) for mixed-use development on the remaining three acres of land. Existing mental health inpatient wards currently located at St Pancras Hospital will move to a new, purpose-built facility next to the Highgate Mental Health Centre and the Whittington Hospital.

In June 2021, Camden Council made a resolution to grant planning permission for Oriel. The new building will feature dedicated spaces to encourage interaction and integration between departments and disciplines across the partnership.

The site is located in the heart of the Knowledge Quarter, an internationally renowned hub for science and innovation. It is close to the UCL Bloomsbury campus and several of our voluntary sector and charity partners including the RNIB and Guide Dogs.
Subject to approvals being secured, the new centre could be open in 2026/27.