A FORMER city council care home is set to be sold off to student housing developers in a multi-million pound deal.

Empiric PLC wants to build a new 126 bedroomed student housing block on the site of Willow House, close to Walmgate Bar, and the company is offering City of York Council £2.8 million for the site if it can get planning permission.

Next week senior councillors will be asked to approve the sale - and reports prepared for a key meeting show council staff think the development will help meet a need for student housing, and bring in much-needed money to fund the wider overhaul of older people’s housing all across York.

Willow House closed at the end of January this year, and was then put on the market.

Papers show City of York Council received 11 bids from seven different developers - although some were unconditional bids offering less money. There were also other bids which would have seen new four-storey buildings built on the site, but they have been discounted as planners did not believe such tall buildings should be permitted on a site which borders the city walls.

Of the five bids that were considered, four involved new student accommodation and one would have seen a new 66 bed care home built.

Empiric’s £2.8 million bid - subject to planning permission - is the highest bid, leading council staff to recommend it is accepted.

However, the plan will see some “open space” built on, as the plot includes land which fronts onto Walmgate and was not fenced off by the care home.

If it goes ahead, the new student block will join several other new student developments in the area - from the existing Student Castle, Foss Studios and Boulevard developments to the newer developments on the old Herbert Todd site on Percy’s Lane, the former Lawrence Street Working Men’s Club, and the Vita Student complex on the old Poor Clare’s convent site.

ESP already has investments in the York student housing market - including Foss Studios, Percy’s Lane, and Lawrence Street Working Men’s Club site now called Samuel Tuke apartments.