David Elstob, Principal Transaction Manager for NHS Property Services, provides a summary of events leading to this public consultation.

NHS Property Services

Who are NHS Property Services?

NHS Property Services is a government-owned company, accountable to the Secretary of State for Health. We exist to help the NHS get the most from its estate and ensure that it is fit for purpose so that healthcare professionals can deliver excellent patient care. We work collaboratively with NHS commissioners, healthcare providers and other stakeholders to make the right estate decisions. Supporting delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan is a fundamental focus of our work.

With close to 7,000 occupancies on over 3,000 sites, the company owns and/or manages close to 10% of the NHS estate. In addition, we deliver essential support and facilities services to NHS service providers nationally through our workforce of around 4,000 frontline colleagues.

Why does NHS Property Services dispose of surplus estate?

The decision on whether a property is surplus to NHS requirements is made by local Health Commissioners, or by NHS England. When a site in our portfolio is declared surplus to requirements we are obliged to sell the property to generate best value for reinvestment back into the NHS.

By our disposing of vacant property, Commissioners are able to reinvest the annual running costs associated with that property in to local health services.

Since 2013, NHS Property Services has sold 441 surplus properties, raising £381 million for the NHS. The release of these properties has provided land for 6,600 new homes.

Along with estate improvements and developments, our total reinvestment in the NHS estate for the same period has been in excess of £500 million. As a business NHS Property Services is also an active developer of Healthcare estate with 23 primary care schemes currently in the course of construction.

What brought about Mental Health Service change in York?

Since 2013 we have worked closely with Commissioners, service providers and a range of local stakeholders to understand the long-term strategy for the NHS estate within York.

Tees Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Trust, working with their service users and Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) set out an ambitious programme to improve mental health facilities across York. This programme included the development of a new fit for purpose 72-bed mental health inpatient facility on Haxby Road in York. This facility was subsequently constructed and opened to patients in May 2020.

In January 2018, Vale of York CCG declared Bootham Hospital surplus to requirements and were released from their obligation to pay the annual running costs for the site, which were then reinvested into healthcare provision.

How have NHS Property Services engaged with other stakeholders?

The significance of the Grade I Listed Heritage Asset and its importance to the City of York was always clear to NHS Property Services when we inherited the buildings in 2013. We undertook due diligence to record the condition of the buildings and to develop a historic building record, managing the property in line with Treasury guidelines.

We have engaged with all relevant stakeholders, particularly with the Conservation Architect at City of York Council, York Civic Trust and Historic England to ensure that any future alternative use of the site would have regard to its Heritage status.

From 2017, along with City of York Council and York Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, we participated in a One Public Estate (OPE) review of the wider Bootham area. This included two public consultations undertaken by the Council in 2019 to discuss the potential future uses of the site, along with land to the North and East which is in the ownership of the Trust and City of York Council.

In 2019 the OPE review concluded that the Council and the Trust would seek to support NHS Property Services in its disposal of the site and that they would then engage with any purchaser to understand what public benefit could be derived from any future development.

A recommendation to maximise the public benefit of any future scheme was agreed by the Council’s Executive Committee in January 2020. And this has therefore been an important consideration in our decision making process.

Why was the ERL bid accepted?

In reviewing numerous bids for the site in Autumn 2019 we had regard not only to price, but also to any developer’s future intentions for the site. Our decision was based on a number of considerations:

  • To find a sustainable and viable future use for the site which we considered best protected the heritage buildings
  • Best Value, incorporating price as well as any additional perceived benefits
  • It was preferred that the site was sold as a whole and ideally retained and/or managed as a whole by the purchaser
  • Impact on heritage buildings, following the developer brief agreed in conjunction with the Conservation Architect and Historic England
  • Enabling public access through the site, including improving the existing cycle path
  • Guaranteed continued use of the hospital field for the Air Ambulance
  • Potential for future public access to areas of the buildings of particular Heritage interest
  • Secure ongoing NHS occupation of the Chapel
  • Ensure the hospital field was protected from future development and that its management would be assured and providing a level of public use
  • Ensure where possible any complementary public/health benefit from any future use.

On this criteria, the ERL bid was assessed as delivering the best all round outcome for the future of the site. The sale contract was exchanged with ERL in March 2020. Since that time we have worked with ERL and other stakeholders to explore potential public benefit from the development. ERL has also engaged fully with City of York Council and Historic England to progress its scheme.

How will NHS Property Services ensure delivery of the public benefits?

If ERL’s planning application is approved we will continue to work with them, the Council, CCG and other stakeholders to ensure delivery of the public benefits.

This includes NHSPS and ERL making a commitment to deliver:

  • The provision of publicly accessible green space on the hospital field
  • Upgrading the cycle path through the site
  • Provision of sports pitches on the hospital field to be managed by a third party and to be accessible at times to local primary school/s.

NHS Property Services are also committed to:

  • Working with Vale of York CCG and the third sector to ensure maximum public health benefit is made of the accessible green space through design and social prescribing initiatives
  • Ongoing discussions with Commissioners to look at opportunities to support estate improvements
  • Sympathetically dealing with any contents which remain in the Hospital in conjunction with relevant stakeholders and in line with Listed Building requirements.

How will NHS Property Services work in future to improve the healthcare estate in York?

We continue to work with the CCG and local healthcare providers on a ‘place-based approach’ to reduce health inequalities as promoted by Public Health England and NHS England. Our Regional Partnership Director, Karina Dare, has been working actively with partners since 2014. We are exploring opportunities for investment and joint development to improve the quality of the local healthcare estate. Recently, partners have been working on the primary and community estates strategy with a view to supporting community healthcare providers and General Practitioners Primary Care Networks.

Rationalisation of the healthcare estate in York will continue, leading to further cost savings and  more opportunities for investment to enhance the staff and patient environment.

How can we learn more about NHS Property Services?

Our website contains much more information and useful case studies on the work which we deliver both in terms of asset management and the operational support we provide to our NHS Partners.


For property related issues please email myself: david.elstob@property.nhs.uk

For strategic healthcare estate please email: karina.dare@property.nhs.uk

Press enquiries to: scott@royalpilgrim.com



For further information, or if you have any questions, please contact Ben Pilgrim at Royal Pilgrim Communications who is managing our consultation process.

01904 599 123

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