EMPTY offices in the centre of York are to be converted into student accommodation under new plans submitted to the council.

The redundant buildings on George Hudson street, which used to house City of York Council offices, could become the site of 55 studio apartments for students.

Owners Forshaw Land and Property Group have applied for change of use planning permission, as well as listed building consents, for the buildings at 2-14 George Hudson Street.

The four storey buildings house restaurants on much of the ground floor, but these proposals show the top three floors could be transformed into homes for dozens of students.

The Grade II listed building was last used as an office by the City of York Council, but has been vacant since 2013 with little interest from potential tenants. Now a planning statement by consultants Knight Frank argues that the employment use condition of the site should be set aside to allow the vacant historic building to be brought back into use.

It says: "The National Planning Policy Framework states that planning policy should avoid the long term protection of sites allocated for employment where there is no reasonable prospect of the site being used for that purpose. When this occurs, applications for alternative uses should be treated with regard to market signals and sustainability."

Knight Frank also argue that the site could be a sustainable development because of the good public transport links nearby which connect to the university campuses and the railway station.

The proposals include 55 self contained studio apartments with their own kitchenettes, a communal lounge, gym, bike store, and managers office, and developers say this would help plug an under-supply in student accommodation which they say exists in York.

The application comes after last year York St John University bought a 258 bedroom accommodation block in Hungate, and work began on another 220 flat block on the former Reg Vardy garage site on Lawrence Street.

Planning permission for that development was granted in December and Caddick Construction began work earlier this month, with completion expected by July next year.