COUNCIL officials have come under fire over claims that York has experienced a significant increase in the number of homes built – using figures which included a huge new student block.

City of York Council chief executive Kersten England tweeted that the number of completions in the first six months of this year was up on the figure for the whole of last year.

But the net gain of 294 completions includes 124 of the student flats at a new complex built on the old dairy site in Hull Road.

The council says they are included in the figures because they are managed by a private landlord and not the University of York, and also says their inclusion is in line with Government guidelines.

But York developer John Reeves claimed that to include halls of residence in housing figures was “misleading and downright wrong,” adding that such a calculation ultimately affected every other housing statistic produced by the council and made them all incorrect.

York architect Matthew Laverack claimed: “Specialist student blocks are no substitute for proper houses and flats. The construction of student blocks will make not the slightest difference to houses currently occupied by students.

“The chief executive tweets that housing completions are “significantly up” when it is not houses at all, nor flats. It is student rooms in clusters occupied temporarily in term time. This is not what any reasonable person would regard as “housing” in the normal sense of the word.” Quantity surveyor Paul Cordock claimed the inclusion of student accommodation as housing was a vain attempt to mislead residents.

However, Coun Dave Merrett, cabinet member for planning, said students were York residents too, and their presence impacted on housing demand, and so it was “entirely appropriate” that extra student units should be counted in the figures.

He said there had been a major increase in student occupation of local housing, particularly near the universities, increasing pressure in the housing market. “Provision of new specialist student housing will therefore help to address this pressure,” he said.

“If purpose-built student housing was not being delivered, that would be extra demand on the existing housing stock, competing with ordinary York families.”