Frequently asked questions

Find out the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions below. If you cannot find the answer to your question on this page or other parts of the website, please email your queries to moorfields.oriel@nhs.net

General

What is Oriel?
Oriel is the joint initiative between Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology (IoO) and Moorfields Eye Charity that would see services move from their current premises near Old Street, Islington to a new, integrated centre on the St Pancras Hospital site in Camden.

This is our opportunity to create a world-leading centre for advancing eye health that is in keeping with the excellence of our talented workforce. Harnessing the expertise of the partners under one roof will enable us to deliver the highest-quality eye care, research and education.

Oriel, a word for a bay-window, was chosen as an appropriate name for our programme, referring to the central, light-filled space in the design of our new centre.

What would be the name of the new centre?
The name of the proposed centre has not been decided. We would retain the Moorfields and UCL brands.

Where can I get more information?
If there is something that you would like to find out about Oriel that is not available on the website then please contact us directly by emailing moorfields.oriel@nhs.net

If you are a member of staff at any of the Oriel partners, please go to the intranet for further information.

Planning process

What is the planning application for?
The application outlines our plans to partially redevelop the St Pancras hospital site and construct our new centre in detail for Camden Council to consider. Planning permission is the legal process of determining whether proposed developments should be permitted. In order for planning permission to be granted, a planning application needs to be submitted to the local council. 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.

What has happened with the planning application?

On 30 June 2021 Camden Council’s planning committee made a resolution to grant planning permission. The next step is for the planning application to be considered by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and we await their decision. If we get GLA approval we will continue to work with Camden Council and Camden and Islington’s development partner, King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP), who are bringing forward proposals for the remaining 3 acres.

Construction and timeline

How long will it take to build?
Subject to approval by the GLA and planning conditions being met, as well as the approval of the Full Business Cases, our current proposals would see enabling works beginning in 2022. It is expected that construction will take three years. 

When do we hope to move?
If approved, our current proposals would see construction beginning around 2022 with the new centre open to patients by 2026. The sale of the existing City Road and Bath Street sites would not be completed until we had moved across to the new building.

Funding

How is the new centre being funded?

Oriel is being funded in a number of ways, including;

  • proceeds from the sale of the City Road site
  • donors to Moorfields Eye Charity and UCL’s fundraising campaign. Find out more on our fundraising page.
  • funds from Research England through the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund
  • central government funding
  • funds from Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL. 

Existing City Road and Bath Street Sites

Why can’t you redevelop the existing hospital on City Road?
In developing our plans, we assessed a number of options for improving services and facilities for our patients and a major renovation of City Road was considered but was found to be more expensive and disruptive (especially to patients) than building a new facility.

Although refurbishments go some way to improving the environment for our patients and staff, they are no substitute for purpose-built facilities that can modernise the patient journey and meet the growing demand for eye health services.

Moorfields received detailed feedback from patients, staff and the public relating to the changes and improvements they would like to see in their experience at the City Road Hospital and IoO research facilities. This feedback indicated broad support for the proposal to move services from City Road to a new centre.

From this work, we selected one preferred way forward, which was the creation of a new centre on land available at the St Pancras Hospital site near King’s Cross. This option could be realised with money from the sale of the City Road land, as well as contributions from central government and from our generous donors.

Why has St Pancras been chosen as the preferred site?
The site is part of London’s ‘Knowledge Quarter,’ which has one of the highest densities of knowledge based, cultural and scientific businesses anywhere in the world. We would be close to the UCL Bloomsbury campus and several of our voluntary sector and charity partners including the RNIB and Guide Dogs.

London is an ideal place to recruit and retain specialists, technicians, researchers and students.

The new location is close to three mainline railway stations (King’s Cross, St Pancras and Euston), making it accessible to large parts of the UK as well as to six London underground lines and the Overground. Building a new facility offers the space and flexibility to meet future changing needs.

Services

What’s happening to the existing services on the St Pancras Hospital site?
The five-acre site is owned by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust. The plan would be to move existing mental health inpatient wards currently located at St Pancras Hospital to a new, purpose-built facility next to the existing Highgate Mental Health Centre and the Whittington Hospital.

As part of the wider redevelopment of the site, specialist community mental health services will remain in a newly designed building on the St Pancras site, while other mental health and physical health services will be moved elsewhere in Camden.

We are proposing to build on two acres of the site. Development of the remainder of the site is being brought forward by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust’s development partner King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP). We are working closely with KCCLP to ensure a coordinated approach with its emerging masterplan. For more information on Camden and Islington’s plans to redevelop their facilities, please visit their website.

 What will happen to the Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Centre?|To provide the very best eye care for all patients both now and in the future, it is important that the Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Centre forms part of the proposed integrated facility. Therefore, the current services would relocate along with the rest of the City Road adult services.

What about the other Moorfields sites across London? / What would this mean for the rest of the Moorfields network?
The network of Moorfields services across London and further afield would continue to deliver and develop services for patients, as it does now. We would continue to adapt our wider care network to take advantage of new technology, advances in eye care and the many future opportunities offered by the proposed new centre.

Building design and features

How tall is the proposed building?
The building has two boomerang-shaped wings embracing a central space, which allows light to reach the centre of the whole building. The south-west wing is seven storeys, and the north wing is ten storeys high. This variation in height is to make sure that the building is in keeping with the local area, and not just one big block.

How sustainable is the proposed building?
The building is being designed to the highest environmental and wellbeing standards. The design draws inspiration from natural systems to achieve the sustainability objectives. The aim is to create a building that promotes the health and wellbeing of staff, patients and visitors, and achieves near-zero carbon emissions in operation, is air quality positive, and optimises the use of resources through applying circular economy principles.

Noise from the proposed external plant will be designed to be lower than the existing background levels during day and night. 

Will there be publicly accessible amenities?
The ground floor of the atrium, spaced over two floors, will be a new public space for the city, with café and education spaces, art and exhibition space and displays showing the science and research carried out within the building. This space will be open from 7am to 7pm.

Heritage, sustainability and public realm

What about the heritage of the St Pancras area?
The St Pancras Hospital site sits within the Kings Cross St Pancras Conservation Area. It comprises a range of different historic buildings, from the Victorian era to post-war and more contemporary structures. The buildings the new facility will replace are primarily post-war and recognised to be of little historic value. These buildings are soon to be vacated by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust.

All of the buildings that define the area have distinct architectural characteristics from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, which creates a rich and diverse character. These include the King’s Cross Station (19th C), Camden Town Hall and the British Library (20th C) and St Pancras Station (21st C).

We have been mindful of our setting and context in developing the designs for Oriel and we believe our proposal will be a positive addition to this varied area, adding a further layer of history.

How will we preserve the historical legacy of Moorfields if the move goes ahead?

We know that staff and patients have formed a strong attachment to Moorfields over the years and there will be a dedicated exhibition space on the ground floor. We intend to use part of this space to help preserve memories of Moorfields and tell the story of the eye hospital’s evolution. We will welcome ideas from staff and patients so that we do justice to the legacy of Moorfields and honour it in the most appropriate way.

Transport and accessibility

Will there be parking?
In line with London Borough of Camden’s policy on parking and the highly accessible location of the site, the proposed development will not have car parking (aside from disabled parking and drop-off).

Will there be bicycle parking?
There will be public spaces for people to lock their bikes, and dedicated secure bike storage for staff. In addition to cycle parking, there are two cycle docking stations within a short walk of the site, one of Royal College Street outside the Royal Veterinary College and one on Pancras Road outside St Pancras International station.

How will you ensure the location of the new centre is accessible for patients? 
We are developing an accessibility plan in partnership with mobility experts, transport authorities, local authorities, patients and their families. The new location at St Pancras Hospital is close to three main railway stations (King’s Cross, St Pancras and Euston), making it accessible to large parts of the UK as well as to six London underground lines and the Overground.

We have appointed Buro Happold to conduct stakeholder engagement for the ‘last half mile’ and co-design solutions for this challenge. This work refers specifically to the journey and user experience between the public transport links or vehicle drop-off area and entry to the proposed new centre.

The stakeholder engagement will focus on the accessibility needs of many patients and visitors with a range of disabilities and age-related conditions, and especially the challenges for people with a variety of visual impairments from the point of arrival by public transport to entering the new centre itself. We will support partners such as Camden Council, TfL and Network Rail as appropriate to ensure an accessible route is available and clearly communicated to patients so that they feel confident with the new journey.

Will there be a patient drop off point?
Yes, this will be located along St Pancras Way.

Got a question about Oriel? Chat to our virtual Oriel AssistantGot a question about Oriel? Chat to our virtual Oriel Assistant