JAMES ALEXANDER says the council cannot force property owners to turn their properties into homes.

That is true. Just like the council cannot force builders to construct houses when planning demands are unrealistic.

What Mr Alexander fails to admit is that where the council is the property owner and is disposing of a building it has the power to impose a restrictive covenant for its subsequent use. It also has the opportunity to provide approved drawings and planning permission.

Thus, when the building is marketed prospective buyers will only be those interested on the option stipulated by the vendor.

The council could have done this with St. Leonard’s Place. We might then be looking forward to the restoration of this fine terrace to its original use as much-needed housing instead of yet another hotel.

But this would have impacted on the selling price because of the planning rules and affordable housing demands that the council seeks to impose on others but does not wish to comply with itself.

A clear case of council hypocrisy. Do as we say, not as we do.

Matthew Laverack, Architect of this parish, Lord Mayors Walk, York.