BOOTHAM Park Hospital has been put up for sale on the open market. Public bodies were given the first chance to bid for the Grade 1 listed Georgian building and its 18 acres of grounds. But no offers were forthcoming, so it has now been put on the market commercially.

A spokesman for NHS Property Services says proceeds from the sale will be ‘reinvested in the NHS’.

That is good to know - although it is unlikely any of the money will make its way to York. Instead, it will be swallowed up by the NHS nationally.

This sale has been on the cards since the decision was taken in 2015 - suddenly, following a CQC inspection - that the building was no longer fit for purpose as a psychiatric hospital. That decision was widely criticised by patients and user groups. It left many vulnerable psychiatric patients needing to be sent to mental hospitals that were often many miles away from their home city, family and friends.

In one sense that is water under the bridge. Plans are well under way for a new 72-bed psychiatric hospital off Haxby Road in York, due to open next year.

But people in York still care what happens both to Bootham Park and to the grounds in which it stands - not least the extensive lawns. NHS Property Services has commissioned a survey of the building’s historic features. And for now the lawns are covered by development restrictions.

Those restrictions must be adhered to. This is far too important a building and a site to be flogged off willy-nilly to the highest bidder. York people are still angry at the way this building was allowed to deteriorate to the point at which it had to close. They will never forgive NHS bureaucrats if it ends up in the wrong hands and is developed inappropriately