PLANS for a 1960s office block in the centre of York to be given a facelift so it can be turned into apartments could be approved next week - with opponents saying it should be bulldozed instead.
St Catherine's Developments already has permission to change the use of Hilary House, on St Saviour's Place, into 12 flats with a medical centre on the ground floor, although it dropped proposals to add an extra floor to the building earlier this year.
The company now wants to carry out external alterations to the five-storey block and City of York Council planners have said this should be allowed, ahead of a meeting of the authority's area planning sub-committee next Thursday. The application has drawn 14 objections and has been called in for debate by Guildhall councillor Brian Watson, who said the potential for the scheme to "impact on the conservation area and views of York Minster" needed to be publicly discussed.
The Guildhall planning panel, which has previously described Hilary House as "a carbuncle" and said the best thing to do would be to "raze it to the ground", claims the changes would mean the building being even more out of character with its neighbours than it is now, and the new flats and medical centre will increase traffic. Other objectors said altering the appearance of the block will not improve its appearance and it should be demolished.
In a report on the scheme, the council's development management officer Jonathan Kenyon said: "In order for the scheme to be unacceptable, it would need to be determined that the proposals are harmful to the character and appearance of the conservation area." He said the plans would not harm the building's setting.
The developers have said the revamp will be "sensitive" and improve the appearance of Hilary House. The authority's conservation architect Janine Riley had raised concerns about light pollution because of the design of new windows and the removal of entrance steps to the building, but Mr Kenyon's report said the windows would now be the same size as before and the steps will be retained.