The future of the 240-year-old former mental hospital is under the spotlight as Ministers consider its future.
The building was taken out of service 4 years ago when a catalogue of defects were found by quality inspectors. These included rat infested cellars and collapsing ceilings.
The hospital was ordered to be closed in September 2015 when it was declared “unfit for purpose” A modern replacement facility is being provided.
The events surrounding the closure were heavily criticised in a York Council report which concluded that NHS Property Services “significantly underestimated the logistic and practical challenges of upgrading a Grade I listed building where shortcomings had been identified over many years”
Running costs on a building of this age are huge. Energy and repair costs represent a constant drain on owners.
Now the local MP says the building should reopen as an NHS facility. She says “key workers in the health health sector” should be accommodated there.
Really? Offering valued employees pre-Victorian housing standards will move us forward in some way?There is only very limited scope to build on other brownfield sections of the site
No costings for the “plan” are offered much less any source of funding. We are assured though that the open space on the site will be retained as an additional public “park”.
Converting the listed building into residential accommodation would be very expensive even if it was in sound structure condition.
Costs would be measured in tens of millions. If such funding is available, then it is desperately needed to provide modern buildings for our ailing NHS.
Bootham Park is a valuable part of the heritage of the City. It’s Listed status means that it can’t be demolished. Planners could ensure that the parkland surrounding it is respected (although, in recent years, urban green space conservation hasn’t been the strong point of the York Council).
It is by no means certain that the private sector would want to acquire the hospital. The high modernisation costs would be the same for them as would ongoing running costs. Grade 1 listing means that only very limited physical changes could be undertaken.
But all options should be put on the table.
In the end, if a different use for the building is found, and this produces a substantial capital receipt for health providers in York, then this could most effectively be invested in modern facilities for patients and staff in the NHS.
And the local MP should stop posturing. She is too quick to blame developers of “luxury homes”, student flats and hotels for every challenge that faces the City.
Indeed, we would be in a pickle if developers did not want to invest in York.