Conservationists are calling for wide public consultation over the future of the Beverley Westwood Hospital site.
The former hospital has been surplus to requirements since the new £19 million East Riding Community Hospital opened in July.
The site, on the edge of picturesque Beverley Westwood, is due to be sold off by the Humber NHS Foundation Trust, which owns it.
Conservationists say it is one of the most important development sites in Beverley to come onto the market for some time. They fear it will be sold off to the highest bidder, but claim it is vitally important that it is developed in the right way.
East Riding Councillor Bryan Pearson is calling for local residents to be included in discussions on its future.
“I would like to see this site for open discussion, before and not after anything is decided,” he said.
Some parts of the former hospital site have been sold off for housing development over recent years, and Coun Pearson claims that the remaining site is not appropriate for further mass house building.
He says there are already traffic problems in the narrow streets around the hospital, and that anything more than a minimal number of new homes would make matters worse.
He claims a better use for the site would be for office development, where traffic would be largely restricted to 9 to 5 on weekdays.
“If we are not careful the hospital authorities will flog it off to the highest bidder and the people around it will have to suffer,” he said.
“I would like to know exactly what is happening and the people of Wood Lane, the Woodlands, St Mary’s Terrace and Westwood Road would like to know what is likely to be planned and have an influence on it.”
Dr Barbara English, a leading member of Beverley Civic Society, said the site is hugely important to the town.
Part of the site, including the main block at West House, is Grade 11 listed and has been suggested as suitable for use as an hotel, retirement apartments or offices.
But Dr English said the rest of the land should not be allowed to be developed as a ‘clone estate’ similar to others that could be found anywhere in the country.
“This is the most significant brownfield site to come to the market for some time, and perhaps the last available, although the East Riding College site will also be vacated,” she said. “It is very important that the development is undertaken with the greatest care, and with wide consultation.”
A spokeswoman for the Humber NHS Foundation Trust said: “As a consequence of the new hospital opening, the Beverley Westwood Hospital site is now surplus to our requirements.
“We will be meeting with East Riding of Yorkshire Council in the next two to three weeks and then the site will be put up for sale. No planning permission will be attached. The proceeds of the sale will be re-invested in healthcare in the local area.”