Plans for Oriel, a new eye care, research and education centre, have moved a step closer with the appointment of a preferred developer for the Moorfields Eye Hospital City Road site and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology’s Bath Street site (jointly referred to as the ‘City Road Island’).

Derwent London plc has been selected as the preferred developer, who will now work with Islington Council and the local community to redevelop the site.

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 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.

The selection process has 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 City Road Island sale is ‘subject to planning’ and a public consultation exercise will be undertaken involving the local community as part of the statutory planning process.

Martin Kuper, Chief executive of Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said:
“The sale of City Road Island is an essential part of our funding strategy for Oriel. 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. Arrangements will be put in place for a smooth transition from the existing sites to the new one, with minimal disruption to the delivery of ongoing patient care.

“We know that staff and patients have formed a strong attachment to Moorfields at City Road over the years and will work with them to make sure that we do justice to honouring its legacy when we move to St Pancras. We will also 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:
“Our current facilities have served us very well for decades, but we will be better placed to realise our future ambitions with a modern, purpose-built centre. Oriel is enabling us to make the improvements that will support our work in the long-term by moving to a new building that supports collaboration and maximises opportunities to strengthen our partnership with Moorfields and delivers real benefits for our patients.

“We are excited to be opening a new chapter in the Institute’s evolution and welcome the prospect of continuing our proud history of pioneering research in a building that matches the scale of our ambition.”

Robert Dufton, Chief Executive at Moorfields Eye Charity, said:
“We’re working in partnership with our generous donors to recognise the vital role of philanthropy in securing the future of eye health on a global scale. As we prepare for the relocation to our new centre we’ll be looking at how we recognise the role of our donors in the realisation of our ambitions for eye care, research and education.”

Paul Williams, Chief Executive of Derwent London plc, said:
“We know the area well and we are pleased to be part of the process whereby the Oriel partners can fulfil their ambition to build a new eye care, research and education centre.”

Alastair Perks, Head of Commercial Development at CBRE, said:
“It has been a great privilege to work with the Oriel partners and to reach this milestone on such an important and high-profile project. We are delighted by the outcome, and are particularly grateful to all of the high calibre parties who have participated in a very comprehensive process.”

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, Camden Council made a resolution to grant planning permission for Oriel. 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.

Oriel was confirmed as one of the New Hospital Programme (NHP) schemes announced by the Prime Minister in October 2020.

The Oriel design team, which comprises AECOM with Penoyre & Prasad and White Arkitekter, has taken on board feedback from staff, patients, carers and partner organisations to ensure that the new centre is accessible and inclusive. CBRE has been supporting the Oriel team with the sale of the City Road Island site.

Subject to approvals being in place, the new centre plans to open in 2026.