RESIDENTS have welcomed plans for a former hospital to be turned into a hospice at a planning consultation over the use of the old Lambert Hospital.

Last year, Hambleton District Council bought the former Thirsk hospital, with the objective the building would be used for community use.

On February 12, over 200 residents gathered at Thirsk and Sowerby Town Hall where a mixture of views were cast.

At the consultation, Hambleton District Council leader councillor Mark Robson emphasised that the event was to capture residents’ views.

He said: “What we knew as the Lambert Hospital is afraid, long gone – I’m sure we all have friends, loved ones, but unfortunately that is gone, and that is not why we are here tonight – it is to discuss the future of that former hospital.

“There is a covenant to be placed on this building as we purchase it, like all these things, maybe something down the line can be discussed about this but currently the restricted use of that building remains.”

The former hospital was sold by the NHS for approximately £350,000 but the sale came with restrictions over its future use. This included uses considered NHS-related, including use as a GP’s surgery, dental practice or pharmacy.

Cllr Robson added: “If we hadn’t of stepped in to purchase, it would be lost – it wouldn’t have the potential for community use whatever that may be.

"Quite a lot of what I have heard is an end of life palliative care type of facility.”

As the evening progressed, an overwhelming number of views seemed to back the use of the hospital as a hospice for Herriot Hospice Homecare.

Tony Collins chief executive of Herriot Hospice Homecare said: “We have for some time now had ambitions to meet a growing need amongst patients and those ambitions have been around expansion of services, introduction of beds as well as provided a much-loved service.

“We’ve been looking at various opportunities – when this one was presented, I had three concerns which were around accessiblity – whether it was feasible, and whether it offered good value.

"We did have some plans put together – I thought the plans looked very good and had them costed on the high side, which came in at around £1.2 million.”

Mr Collins was not met by much opposition, one lady suggested the hospital could be turned into a location for people to seek advice on benefits, whilst one gentleman suggested demolition to make way for a multi-storey car park.

In response, Cllr Robson said any final decisions were “a long” way off.