THE former Bootham Park Hospital is set to be turned into a retirement complex - with 125 homes for independent living.

Under the plans people would still be able to cycle or walk through the grounds, some parts of the building will be opened to the public and the air ambulance will be allowed to land on the hospital field in emergencies.

The building has lain empty for nearly five years - after shutting down in 2015.

The site has now been sold on a conditional basis to Enterprise Retirement Living - a company creating luxury independent accommodation for people aged 55 and older.

And some of the money from the sale could be reinvested in health services in York - rather than sent back to the national pot.

A City of York Council report prepared for an executive meeting on Tuesday says the news is a “vindication” of the local authority’s consultations about the site.

In October 2019 The Press revealed that council chiefs put more than £139,000 towards a glossy report detailing plans for a care home, new houses and medical facilities to be built on the former Bootham Park Hospital site - despite not owning the property.

The report reveals that, in response to the consultation, York Minster wants the parkland to be used by The Minster School for sports events, Bootham School expressed an interest in using the land as playing fields, the hospital trust is keen for a new nursery to be created and York CVS would like to see offices for charities and childcare on site.

An American bowling alley dating back to pre-1892 could also be opened to the public under the proposals.

The listing says the sport was becoming popular in the 19th century and installing one at the hospital revealed “a more humane approach to the treatment of patients”.

Cllr Nigel Ayre said: “Despite not owning the site, we’ve worked together with local health partners to engage residents, lobby Government and talk to developers to influence its future development.

“This announcement shows the approach is having an impact. I’d like to thank all our partners for the hard work to date, and reassure York residents that we’ll work positively with ERL and NHS PS to get the best possible deal for York.”

Senior councillors will be asked to allow officers to negotiate with the NHS and future owners of the site - on issues including transport - at a meeting on Tuesday.