THE long-running growth in the number of student lets in York may finally be over.

Figures obtained from City of York Council by Independent councillor Mark Warters show that the number of properties exempt from council tax because they are occupied by students has actually fallen slightly.

There were 3,677 such properties in 2013, compared with 3,701 in 2012.

The decrease comes after many years of rises, which saw numbers increase from 1,869 in 1999 to 2,375 in 2009.

However, the local authority still lost £3.39 million in council tax last year as a result of student property exemptions, although the authority has claimed previously that such losses are compensated for by Government grants.

A separate set of figures obtained by Coun Warters for his Osbaldwick ward show that the number of student properties more than trebled over the past decade. They rose from 25 in 2003 to 78 in 2013, causing a loss of council tax revenue of almost £85,000.

Coun Warters said he feared the number of student lets in Osbaldwick would increase sharply in coming years, as a result of a council policy intended to tackle the growth of student lets and other shared houses.

He claimed the “article 4” policy, which restricted the further growth of student lets in areas which already had high concentrations, such as Hull Road, would push such developments into areas with lower concentrations, such as Osbaldwick.

He also expressed concern about the loss of council tax revenue to the authority, which he said was happening as council tax payers were facing an increase in payments and essential services were being cut and jobs lost.