CONTROVERSIAL plans to add an extra floor to an empty office block in the centre of York have been shelved.

Developers hope to convert the upper floors of Hilary House, in St Saviour’s Place, into apartments.

They had also submitted a separate proposal to create a sixth storey within the 1960s office block for a penthouse property. However, they have now withdrawn that application.

St Catherine’s Developments is still looking to carry out alterations to the facade of the building, including new windows, steps and a balustrade, having been given permission to change its use so it can become 12 flats with a medical centre on the ground floor.

City of York Council’s conservation architect, Janine Riley, has said the scheme could cause light pollution in the area.

Agents acting for the developers have said the “sensitive” revamp will improve the appearance of Hilary House, which is listed by the council as one of the buildings which detract from the city’s conservation area.

They said the now-withdrawn penthouse plans would have had little impact on the skyline. Opponents included the Guildhall planning panel, which has said Hilary House is a “carbuncle” that should be demolished.

The panel said its new use would cause traffic problems and an extra floor would have caused “further damage to the environment” as the building was already out of scale with its surroundings.

In an email to planning officers, Ms Riley said two of the main problems with Hilary House were its “bulk and height” and the plans did not address either issue.

She said light from the flats would be “uncontrolled” at night as there would be no unified use of curtains or blinds by residents.

She said: “The external block of light would be uncharacteristic of the area, which is otherwise a quiet residential area with subtle street lighting and no light pollution from other residential buildings.”

She said the scheme may remove some of the building’s best details and the new facade may harm the appearance of the area more than what it would replace, while the replacement steps would have less architectural value.

“The building is already flawed and the proposed changes would have further adverse impact on the setting of important buildings in the vicinity,” she said.

It has not been confirmed whether the penthouse application might be resubmitted.

A decision on the external changes is due this month.