IMPASSIONED pleas have been made to save the former Bootham Park Hospital site at a meeting to canvass public opinion about its future.

York Central MP, Rachael Maskell, who chaired last night’s meeting, has been vocal in her calls for the Grade I-listed building to continue to provide healthcare services, as well as preserving the green space surrounding it.

Her campaign has won cross-party support and the backing of local public services and the local authority.

Earlier this week, she handed a petition containing 8,386 signatures to the Government, in an effort to stop the sale of the site to the highest bidder, and its proposed redevelopment into a hotel and luxury apartments.

More than 100 residents and representatives of groups across the city attended the meeting to air their views.

A consultation period will now take place, before a final proposal is put to the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, in around four months’ time.

Ms Maskell remains optimistic about the plans. She said: “I’ve had about 30 meetings now about the Bootham Park site, including with the secretary of state, and I had some really warm feedback from him this week when I raised it in the House.

“I can’t determine what he is going to say, but it would be really remiss if he doesn’t let this proceed now.”

Many suggestions made at the meeting backed Ms Maskell in her support of a proposal put forward by York Teaching Hospital, in conjunction with City of York Council.

This would provide some health services, as well as affordable housing for NHS key workers.

Suggestions put forward last night included mental health services, a hospital training facility, a base for a first-response team and care for the vulnerable and the elderly.

Others stressed the importance of the green space and keeping the trees that surround the site, as well as retaining access for the air ambulance.

Further suggestions included creating a city farm, an art gallery or a museum, while the head of Bootham School, Chris Jeffrey, wanted the school to have the opportunity to cultivate the land and develop sports pitches - which he was keen should be put to use by the wider community.

Representing one of the health partners involved in shaping the proposals at last night’s meeting, Simon Pleydell, said: “I believe this is a once in a generation opportunity. We need to do this for York.”

To submit your feedback and ideas for the site go to . The deadline is 9am on Thursday, November 1.

If you would like the chance to explore the site, sign up for a one-hour walk on Saturday, October 27 at