Eye-catching multi-million pound centre set to boost cancer support in Leeds

An artist's impression of the proposed Maggie's Centre at Leeds St James's Hospital.
An artist's impression of the proposed Maggie's Centre at Leeds St James's Hospital.
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Landmark plans for a futuristic £5million cancer centre at Leeds St James’s Hospital have been submitted to Leeds City Council.

The eye-catching proposals could see the Maggie’s charity, which offers free support to people with cancer and their families, open its first Yorkshire facility in 2017.

Designer Thomas Heatherwick holds his CBE (Commander of the British Empire), after it was presented to him by the Prince of Wales, during a Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday February 7, 2014. See PA story ROYAL Investitures. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Designer Thomas Heatherwick holds his CBE (Commander of the British Empire), after it was presented to him by the Prince of Wales, during a Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday February 7, 2014. See PA story ROYAL Investitures. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Designed by the acclaimed Heatherwick Studio, founded by Thomas Heatherwick CBE who masterminded the 2012 Olympic cauldron, the new cancer support centre would feature a series of contained roof gardens.

The building would be erected on land next to the Alma Street multi-storey car park, close to Leeds St James’s Institute of Oncology at Bexley Wing to establish a pathway for cancer patients directly to a support facility.

Laura Lee, chief executive of Maggie’s, said: “A cancer diagnosis and treatment brings with it tough questions and difficult emotions which can leave many feeling isolated.

“The programme of support that we will be offering at Maggie’s Yorkshire will help to improve the physical and emotional wellbeing of people with cancer across the region.”

The charity has been working closely on the project with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTH), which is keen to offer additional support to cancer patients.

The Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre, situated behind the Thackray Museum, has offered services such as support groups, yoga classes, counselling, hair loss services and hypnotherapy to help people affected by cancer since 2000.

It sees over 12,500 people newly diagnosed with cancer per year and provides specialist support services to a population of around 2.7million people across the region and beyond.

Dr Linda Pollard CBE, chair of LTH, said: “The emotional trauma of cancer can be just as difficult as the physical effect so we’re delighted that we’re now a step closer to making a huge difference to our patients and their families.”

Maggie’s is named after one of its founders, Maggie Keswick Jencks, who died in 1995.

It has 15 centres in the UK offering complementary therapies, practical help, courses and support groups. Council decision-makers will debate planning permission in the coming months.

OLYMPIC CAULDRON DESIGNER INVOLVED IN CENTRE

The innovative design of the proposed new Maggie’s Centre is aimed at creating a calm and uplifting environment for people with cancer.

Heatherwick Studio was selected to conceive the Maggie’s Yorkshire design, having already created award-winning designs for the UK Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010, the Olympic cauldron for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and the New Bus for London.

The organisation’s design consists of a series of contained gardens to capture the therapeutic effect of plants and contrast them with medical hospital surroundings, inspiring people affected by cancer to make use of it.

The building would take the form of a collection of stepped planter elements, each holding a piece of garden, and would feature a series of shared and private internal spaces.

Thomas Heatherwick CBE, who founded Heatherwick Studio, said: “We’re delighted to work with Maggie’s to bring a centre to Yorkshire and to have the opportunity to create a positive environment which will help calm minds and foster a sense of wellbeing.”

Heatherwick Studio’s building design provides the setting for the surrounding gardens, which will be created by landscape designer Marie-Louise Agius of Balston Agius.

Each individual Maggie’s Centre has been designed to create a unique environment that aims to meet the needs of people with cancer.

THE CHARITY BEHIND THE AMBITIOUS PLAN

There are 15 Maggie’s Centres offering crucial support to cancer patients in the grounds of specialist NHS hospitals nationwide.

The charity, which opened its first centre in Edinburgh in 1996, prides itself on a welcoming, warm approach to support in unique spaces.

Each facility funds qualified professionals to offer a programme of events, activities and support that has been shown to improve physical and emotional wellbeing.

The president of Maggie’s is the Duchess of Cornwall. Visit www.maggiescentres.org for details.

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