NEW flats could be created at an office site in York once rail staff move out, in spite of concerns it will add to a lack of city-centre business space.

First TransPennine Express at present occupies a building on the corner of Tanner Row and Barker Lane, but is planning to leave the premises once its rail franchise comes to an end.

Proposals have now been put forward by the site’s owners, Brantingham Property Services Ltd, to turn it into 11 apartments. They will be discussed next week, when City of York Council’s west and city centre area planning sub-committee meets.

Planning officers have recommended the scheme for approval.

If the plans get the go-ahead, seven one-bedroom and four two-bedroom flats would be created once First TransPennine Express, part of the First Group, vacates the building, which the owners have said is expected to be no later than April 2014.

“The owners are motivated not to be left with a vacant property, particularly given the current economic climate, and are therefore seeking to find an appropriate alternative use for the building,” said a report on the proposals by the council’s development management officer, Rachel Tyas.

She said the authority’s economic development unit felt it was “regrettable that small office spaces are declining in the city centre”, and that it “seemed premature” to apply for the Tanner Row building to be converted into flats as its owners had not assessed the market to see if new tenants might come forward.

“Officers would agree with the comments of the economic development unit and do not welcome this application for a change of use of an office building in an accessible location where there are existing tenants and the market has not been tested,” said the report.

“However, officers consider it would be difficult to resist the proposal on the basis of loss of office space.”

The report also said the apartments scheme would “respect the historic and aesthetic interest of the building” and would not harm the appearance of the surrounding conservation area.