‘Save Bootham Park for the city’ say council leaders – as school eyes up the playing fields

Up for sale… Bootham Park Hospital. Photograph: YorkMix

Council leaders want to keep Bootham Park Hospital as a city asset – rather than see it sold off to the highest bidder for luxury homes.

The news comes as nearby Bootham School confirmed it has expressed an interest in the playing fields on the site.

The Grade I listed former psychiatric hospital and its grounds were put up for sale by owners the NHS in January.

Now City of York Council leader Ian Gillies wants the authority to acquire the site.

Although it could not pay “a seven figure sum”, he hopes that as the building is already publicly owned the council might be able to get it for a peppercorn amount.

Cllr Gillies would like to see Bootham Park hospital converted into a residential care home, affordable housing or even a health centre.

Keep it from private homes

Now empty: Bootham Park Hospital. Photograph: Richard McDougall
In a statement from the joint Lib Dem-Conservative coalition that runs the council, Cllr Gillies said they were beginning exploratory talks about the site. The statement said:

Obviously we are not looking at any kind of in-patient care, but there are a variety of potential uses for the building. Plus the site is well-placed to deliver multiple services linked to health and social care services and related functions.

Our main intention is to seriously explore the potential of keeping Bootham Park as a facility for the city rather than seeing it sold to the highest bidder, which would likely be private sector housing.

It could become a social care hub like those being developed at Burnholme or Lowfield, he added, and keeping the building in health and social care would be a “win-win” for both the city and the NHS.

The statement said the groups had been in talks with bodies including the health service and Bootham School. A school spokesman confirmed it had expressed an interest in the playing fields on the site.

Maximum value wanted

A vast city centre site – this aerial view shows the near-18 acre site. Photograph: NHS Property Services

Public bodies including the city council were given a chance to bid for the listed hospital building and 17.8 acre site, before it was put on the market by NHS Property Services in January.

Health service bosses have confirmed that money raised will be ploughed back into the NHS.

Agents Savills described it as being in “prime residential location”, and sales documents said the site would lend itself to redevelopment as a care home, residential development, hotel or other leisure facility.

A spokesperson for NHS Property Services said initial bids had already been received, and “the sale process continues”.

The spokesperson added: “We will consider bids from all prospective purchasers on their merits.

“We have a clear remit to deliver maximum value on the sale of surplus property to generate vital funds for reinvestment in the NHS.”