THE go-ahead could soon be given for the long-awaited transformation of a landmark city-centre building that has been branded an “eyesore”.
Planning officers have recommended approval for proposals to create 14 apartments on the upper floors of the White Swan Hotel, on the corner of Piccadilly and Coppergate, and create potential retail space on the ground floor.
The plans have been drawn up by the Graham Family Trust in an attempt to revive the site, which has been empty for 30 years.
It had become a hotel in 1912, but the mock-Tudor building’s condition has deteriorated and the possibility of demolishing and rebuilding it was considered before being dropped.
If the scheme is backed by City of York Council’s west and city-centre area planning sub-committee next Wednesday and a planning agreement is rubber-stamped, the street level of the site could be used for retail units, financial services outlets, restaurants or bars, or a mixture of these.
The Press reported last month that supermarket chain Waitrose, which was once understood to have expressed an interest in the site, did not plan to open a second York store.
In a report to go before the planning meeting, development management officer Jonathan Kenyon said York Civic Trust supported the refurbishment but wanted the new shop fronts to “respect the historic context” of the area.
He also said the work would include an extension on the Piccadilly side of the site, filling a gap between the former hotel and the building occupied by Pavers shoe shop.
“The approach to this scheme has been sensitive to the qualities of the existing building and its environment,” said the report.
“The significance of the building has been researched and understood.
“The scheme will enhance the building and the modest extensions will preserve important views and settings, and it will help reinvigorate this part of York.”
In their application, the trust’s planning agents, Gerald Eve LLP, said talks had been held about whether the building could become a hotel once again, but any development would only have been viable if it had at least 100 rooms.
The firm also said other potential uses, including office space, had been ruled out, and the proposals would boost shopping activity in the area and provide better links between Piccadilly, Coppergate and Pavement.