York health centre can stay for now – despite city being ‘desperate for housing’
The health centre at Askham Bar in York will remain in place for another 18 months after councillors gave the go ahead.
City NHS provider Nimbuscare also wanted permission to add two new temporary buildings to what they call the Askham Bar Community Care Centre.
The former park and ride site between the Tesco Superstore and Moor Lane was turned into a Covid vaccination centre in 2020, but now provides a much wider range of services following the drop-off in demand for vaccinations.
The emergency permitted development rights which allowed for its temporary construction during the height of the pandemic expired in December.
Nimbuscare said in its application: “It is a place where several health, care and voluntary providers can work together to connect people and treat more than just ill health.”
The centre will comprise 20 to 30 treatment rooms and provide services that residents would previously have had to travel for, including blood-taking, ultrasound, retinal screening and respiratory treatments.
Cllr Jonny Crawshaw welcomed the application but said he was concerned extending the temporary arrangements could make it harder to refuse Nimbuscare if it came back asking for the site to be made permanent.
Loss of land
The land is allocated for housing in York’s draft Local Plan, which the council hopes will be adopted before the end of the eye.
He added: “We need more healthcare facilities in accessible locations. I just have a niggle that this is a side of the city that is desperate for housing, particularly affordable housing.
“For all the reasons it’s a good place for a health care site, it’s also a great place for some housing.
“We’d then be potentially over a barrel in terms of the loss of housing land.”
Council development manager Gareth Arnold said: “I think that granting permission for 18 months for a temporary period would not prejudice the local planning authority’s decision-making process after that period.”
Cllr Simon Daubeney added: “I think this site has proven its value in terms of health care over the past few years.
“I would echo the need for housing in the area but I think that will come back to us in future if that needs to be debated.”