A £300 million contract has been awarded to Bouygues UK to build Oriel, a new eye care, research and education centre in Camden.

Oriel is a joint initiative between Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Charity that will see services move to a brand-new integrated centre on part of the St Pancras Hospital site.

The two-acre site earmarked for Oriel was owned by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I). Moorfields acquired the site on 1 February 2023 through an NHS-to-NHS transaction approved by the Secretary of State for Health.

These significant milestones follow final NHS and government approval for the centre in November 2022 and Camden Council granting full planning permission in August 2022.

Demolition of six buildings currently on the Oriel site will now begin at the end of February and construction of the 10-storey, 47,000 sq. m, centre will start later in 2023.

Preparation work started on the site in autumn last year under an early works agreement with Bouygues UK and they have now developed a full construction programme with the building due to open in 2027.

The new centre – part of the New Hospital Programme, the biggest hospital building programme in a generation – will harness the expertise of the partners under one roof and will enable closer collaborative working between clinicians and researchers to speed up the delivery of the highest quality treatments and therapies for patients.

Martin Kuper, Moorfields chief executive, said: “These latest developments move us firmly into the construction stage of the project. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to get us to this stage. We are excited to be working with Bouygues UK to build our state-of-the-art centre which will support our reputation for excellence and our ability to deliver outstanding care for our patients.”

Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences, said: “Meeting these milestones is a major achievement and I am incredibly excited about demolition beginning later this month and construction starting this year. Oriel will allow us to drive forward real innovation to support our work in the long-term and strengthen our partnership with Moorfields in delivering real benefits for patients.”

Robert Dufton, Moorfields Eye Charity chief executive, said: “This is another major step forward for Oriel and we are very much looking forward to construction starting this year. We’ve been working in partnership with our generous donors because philanthropy is a key part of the Oriel funding mix and has a vital role in securing the future of eye health on a global scale. We believe the new centre will provide patients, who are at the heart of everything we do, with the best treatments, faster.”

Fabienne Viala, chair of Bouygues Construction in the United Kingdom, said: “To be partnering on this world-leading centre in eye care, research and education is an incredibly exciting opportunity for Bouygues UK. We are so proud to be the leading contractor for this innovative building which will be an exemplar for accessibility, tailored to the needs of its patients, and designed flexibly to meet their future needs. As with all our projects, social value will be key for us and we are looking forward to working with the Oriel partners, Camden Council and the Knowledge Quarter to unlock training and employment opportunities for local people to create a lasting legacy in the community.”

The new centre will be 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 NHS, commercial and charity partners.

Oriel will be built on two acres of the five-acre St Pancras Hospital site. The rest of the site is being developed by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust and King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership. The proposed development will provide modern, accessible and sustainable mental health facilities fit for the 21st century, as well as new offices, homes, retail, leisure and public spaces in a place which is accessible and welcoming to all.