Future of Bootham Park site update
February 27, 2019
It is very disappointing to see that the Department of Health has decided to proceed with the sale of the old Bootham Park Hospital site, given the ambitious plans City of York Council and York Hospital NHS Trust were working on for developing the site to provide health services, housing, improved access, and a public park.
I understand that the decision was informed by the cost maintaining the empty site imposed on our local health service, which has been declared surplus to clinical requirements by York NHS. The Department of Health also judged that the Council/York Hospital plans for the site were at a very early stage, and they felt they could not justify foregoing the immediate proceeds of a sale, which will be reinvested into the NHS.
I have closely engaged on this with Health Minister Stephen Hammond, the leadership of the York NHS Hospital Trust and Vale of York NHS Clinical Commissioning Group over several months, lobbying the Minister for more time for the Council and York Hospital Trust to finalise their plans for the site, and stressing the future of Bootham Park must reflect the needs of York residents.
I am working closely with the Leader of City of York Council Ian Gillies on this, and the priority now is to ensure that the sale and development of the site provides concrete benefits for local residents.
Any development plans for Bootham Park now have to be approved by the Council, which puts the local authority in a strong position to demand that the future use of the site delivers the greatest possible advantages for the local community. This could be through new housing, space for public services, and improved access for the surrounding area, for instance. The Department of Health have made clear that any development will already maintain current access and facilitate ongoing use by the air ambulance, and conditions of sale will include the retention of the Bootham chapel building for NHS use, and the creation of a new cycleway through the site.
This is therefore just the start of a long process, during which I will continue to defend the interests of York residents. The needs of the city have to come first in future decisions on this vital part of our local landscape and heritage.