Last night (30 June) Camden Council made a resolution to grant planning permission for a new centre which will bring patient-centred eye care, cutting-edge research and exemplary education all under one roof in the heart of the Knowledge Quarter, an internationally renowned hub for science and innovation.

Oriel is a joint initiative between Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Moorfields), UCL Institute of Ophthalmology (IoO) and Moorfields Eye Charity. It is an opportunity to create a world-leading centre for advancing eye health that will attract, inspire and retain the most talented clinicians, researchers and educators, enabling the speedier delivery of new treatments and therapies for patients.

Subject to approval by the GLA and conditions being met, Moorfields and the UCL IoO will be able to relocate from their current buildings on City Road, Islington, to the St Pancras Hospital site, in Camden.

This is a significant milestone for the project, which the partners have been working on together since 2013. Engagement on the new centre is ongoing, with a series of events taking place throughout the summer to involve staff, patients and partner organisations in the design of the building’s interior.

Designed by Lead Architect, Penoyre & Prasad, along with AECOM providing expertise on engineering and sustainability, and White Artkitekter on interiors and landscaping, plans for the new building include an open and welcoming environment with highly innovative and flexible layout. At the building’s heart there is a spacious atrium surrounded by clinical, research and education spaces.

Minister for Health Edward Argar MP said:

“The Oriel eye centre will enable London to deliver world-leading patient care and scientific research under the same roof, as part of the biggest hospital infrastructure programme in a generation to build back better. The grant of planning approval is an important next step, and I look forward to working with the trust deliver this centre.

“We are backing our NHS and will be building a total of 48 hospitals by 2030, backed by an initial £3.7 billion.”

David Probert, chief executive of Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said:

“This is truly a significant milestone for Oriel and the future of patient-centred eye care. The new eye health centre will be a world first and has been designed to accommodate the greatest integration between research and patient care.”

“Collaboration is key to this project and we are looking forward to continuing to work closely with our staff, patients and partners so that we build a new centre that is not only fit-for-purpose, but a beacon of excellence for patient-focused eye care.”

Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences, said:

“World-class research, innovation and education merit a first-rate facility. Our new location in the heart of Camden’s Knowledge Quarter will maximise opportunities for collaborative working and bring us closer to colleagues in other UCL schools and faculties.”

“With common eye conditions expected to rise rapidly over the next 15 years, we need to plan for the future. Oriel promises to deliver a more collaborative working environment that will support our translational ‘bench to bedside’ research through the co-development of research and early involvement of clinicians and patients.”

Robert Dufton, Chief Executive at Moorfields Eye Charity, said:

“It is an extremely exciting time for the partners in developing this new centre which will enable world-leading clinical care, research and education in eye health. Philanthropy is key to helping us make this global centre for advancing eye health a reality.

“We are delighted with the support we’ve received to date from donors and look forward to new and continuing conversations with others interested in helping us realising our vision.”

The Oriel engagement and consultation programme was shortlisted for the NHS Communications Initiative of the Year Award at the 2020 HSJ Awards, in recognition of an outstanding contribution to healthcare.

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.

The Treasury, the Department for Health and Social Care and NHS England / NHS Improvement have given the proposals the green light, which means that detailed work on designing the new centre can build momentum.