Only days after the NHS said it was considering building a Mental Health Hospital on the Lowfields school site, the York Council has slated the future of the location for debate on 30th June.
A new “Forward Programme” has been published which gives only 4 weeks notice of the discussion.
The three items down for decision are:
1. Move forward with plans for the re-development of the Lowfields school site, beginning with public engagement regarding use and design.
2. Consult on the closure of a further Older Persons’ Home in the autumn of 2016 and one in the first half of 2017, following the Moving Homes Safely Protocol.
3. Open negotiations to purchase land adjacent to Haxby Hall in order to facilitate the examination of options for its future.
The original intention had been to site an older persons “village” on the footprint of the former school site. This was subsequently abandoned when the then Labour led Council lost control of the project amidst escalating costs.
Instead, they decided to concentrate all resources on building a new “hub” on the east of the city at Burnholme.
This led to accusations that the Council was ignoring the needs of older people on the Acomb side of the City.
There now seems to be no chance of the Council finding money to develop the site itself.
Instead the hope is that it will be put on the open market (as it could have been two years ago) with bids being assessed against an agree set of criteria. If the aim remains to provide accommodation principally aimed at older people (the site is ideally located near to amenities) then a high weighting could be given to bids that can guarantee that outcome.
This is what the Council (belatedly) did when selling off the Oliver House elderly persons home for redevelopment. That site was subsequently sold to a company specialising in retirement properties.
This strategy has the added value that older people “downsizing” to Lowfields would free up more family sized accommodation elsewhere.
Residents will be keeping an eagle eye on the Council to ensure that no development intrudes onto the Lowfields playing fields.
There is a shortage of football pitches on the west of the City and potentially the former school playing field would also be an important amenity for any new community development.