YORK St John University has purchased Peppermill Court from the NHS for more than £3million.

The property, formerly a 24-bed adult patient assessment and treatment unit, had formed part of the university's strategic acquisition plans to develop a city centre-based campus and accommodation portfolio.

However, the university has announced it will be leasing the property back to the NHS to safeguard against the risk of hospital capacity shortages during the coronavirus pandemic.

Patients at Peppermill Court, off Huntington Road, were the first to start moving into York's new mental health hospital in Haxby Road when it opened in April.

Foss Park is a new 72-bed hospital for patients with conditions including psychosis, severe depression or anxiety, and is part of the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

York St John, which is home to about 7,000 students, has pushed back its expansion plans in the fight against Covid-19.

Langleys Solicitors acted on behalf of York St John University in the purchase, drafting all legal documents including the contract, a transfer and an overage and clawback agreement.

The law firm also handled drafting and negotiation of the lease back to the NHS from the university, after it emerged that the additional capacity would be needed during the peak of COVID-19.

Tim Cross, managing partner at Langleys Solicitors, said: “We’re pleased to have acted on behalf of York St John University on this project, in such unusual circumstances.

"Despite the completion of the off-market sale it emerged that the additional capacity may be required by the hospital and therefore a bespoke agreement had to be created quickly.

"We hope to have done a small bit in the fight against Covid-19, and help the region cope with the outbreak that bit better.

"Long-term we also hope to see York St John University develop its city centre portfolio and attract a new generation of students and graduates to the area.”

Richard Hirst, head of strategic estate and property management at the university, said: “Before this period, we had envisaged that this site would house a small number of students with appropriate accommodation.

"However, as the coronavirus situation worsened, it soon became clear that the space could be put to better immediate use by leasing it back to the NHS, to help them support and care for those who needed treatment for the coronavirus here in York.”