SO, the vacated council offices in St Leonard’s place are not to become a hotel after all. Instead, developer Rushbond hopes to convert them into luxury townhouses and flats.
Many will have suspected that the plans for a £20 million, four-star hotel had run into difficulties. The buildings have stood empty since the council moved out last year.
Rushbond has now confirmed this. “After two years of trying to get interest from a hotel company, it was time to accept what the market was telling us: it wasn’t going to work as a hotel,” admitted Rushbond managing director Jonathan Maud.
The hotel plan would have created between 80 and 100 jobs. It will be a shame to lose these. But at least it will be good to see this key quarter of York being redeveloped.
It could be argued that York already has more than enough hotels. And the latest proposals – for five townhouses and 29 apartments – would in a way take St Leonard’s Place back to what the designers always intended.
It was built in 1831 as a crescent of nine luxurious townhouses. “St Leonard’s Place was the pinnacle of fine living in York – and it can be so again,” said Rushbond’s director of real estate, Mark Finch.
A planning application is expected to be submitted within weeks.
The proposed scheme will do nothing to address York’s need for affordable homes. But it could make this quarter of York – next to the Theatre Royal, the Art Gallery, King’s Manor and the Museum Gardens – one of the most desirable addresses in the north of England. And it will certainly improve the appearance of the area. For that reason alone, it should be welcomed.