PLANS for 244 student flats at a former York car showroom could be given the go-ahead next week.

The scheme at the Reg Vardy garage site on Lawrence Street, which has become home to squatters, involves existing buildings being demolished and replaced by three accommodation blocks. Two years ago a proposal for 282 flats at the site was turned down.

City of York Council’s planning committee will debate the new application, by Richard Lockey of Black Lion Ltd, when it meets next Thursday and planning officials have recommended it for approval. However, 47 letters of objection have been sent to the authority, although the plans have been backed by York University Students’ Union.

Residents and businesses in the area around the site made a series of complaints about vandalism after squatters occupied the land.

It was also the scene of an attack in March which left 45-year-old Stephen Eastwood in a coma with serious head injuries.

A report on the proposals by planning official Diane Cragg said the scheme would include 13 parking spaces and 140 cycle-parking spots for students living there, with the blocks being between three and five storeys high. It said the previous application for the site was rejected because its design affected residents in nearby Barbican Mews and the setting of the nearby St Lawrence’s Church.

The objections are against the height of the development, noise and anti social behaviour, the potential negative impact on the area and loss of privacy for people living nearby.

The students’ union has said the flats will reduce the need for family housing to be turned into houses in multiple occupation, but they should have 24-hour security staff and rooms for students with families.

The planning report said: “The police architectural liaison officer said the behaviour of homeless persons and squatters on the current site has placed a huge demand on police resources.

“Development of this land will help to improve the environment and eradicate some of the crime and disorder problems. The scheme will provide much-needed accommodation to meet both existing and future student housing requirements.”