PLANS to build a new flagship vascular unit at York Hospital mean about 250 healthcare staff will need to stop driving to work.

The £10m extension was given permission to go ahead at City of York Council's first virtual planning meeting yesterday.

But the committee heard it could mean there are 100 fewer staff car parking spaces at the hospital.

And that staff are likely to park on residential streets around Burton Stone Lane and Bootham instead. Traffic problems on Wigginton Road due to people queuing to park at the hospital were also highlighted.

But a spokesman for the hospital said they are committed to offsetting the loss of parking spaces by encouraging more people to cycle to work, car share or get the bus.

Helene Vergereau from the council's highways department said: "We have been trying to progress a much stronger travel plan with the hospital. But we have not actually seen any strong commitment to reduce car use. Our concerns remain.

"We have had issues with queuing on Wigginton Road from visitors, patients and staff trying to access the car park, usually from midday to about 3pm.

"We want to make sure that's not going to get worse.

"We would need about 250 staff to stop driving for the loss of those 100 spaces. I can't see the current travel plan achieving this. I would like to see something much stronger."

Cllr Andy D'Agorne said: "The congestion on Wigginton Road does have a major impact, not just on delays but also pollution outside a hospital."

Cllr Michael Pavlovic added: "The health service staff are the ones who are going to be inconvenienced. You have staff who are expected to come off shift at midnight and to expect them to get on a bicycle or use a Park&Ride bus service that ended at 8.15pm is grossly unfair."

"I expect the hospital authorities to make more effort to make an acceptable travel plan."

But council planning officers said the new unit is needed and there is limited space at the hospital site.

Tim Ross, speaking for the hospital's application, said: "The extension is necessary to meet current and future needs. It is of regional significance. It is difficult to conceive of a proposal that delivers greater public benefits. We are committed to mitigating the loss of car parking."

He added that the hospital is reviewing the staff parking permit scheme to reduce the number of employees allowed to park on site.

The committee voted by a majority to approve the plans for the new unit - but called for the hospital to create a "stronger travel plan".