AN eyesore office block in York could be turned into flats after plans to demolish it to make way for a £10 million hotel were dropped.

Proposals to open a 95-bedroom hotel on land occupied by Holgate Villas were approved by City of York Council in 2011, but the scheme has now been abandoned after an agreement could not be secured between the building’s owners and an operator.

York-based Villas Venture has now submitted new plans for the Holgate Road property, which was built in the 1950s, to be refurbished and become 50 flats, using new “permitted development rights” designed to make it easier for developers to convert buildings from office to residential use.

The company is currently checking with planners whether approval for the project will be needed over transport, contamination and flooding issues, but expects to be able to start work at the end of January.

John Reeves, chairman of The Helmsley Group, which is advising Villas Venture, said: “Holgate Villas was marketed for two years as a hotel, but an operator could not be found on terms we could agree. There were hotels interested, but financing issues meant it was not possible to strike a deal.

“The apartments which are now planned for the building will be relatively affordable, at between £110,000 and £165,000, and will be mostly affordable.

“The building will be completely reclad and will look very different and much more interesting than it does at the moment.”

When the hotel plans were submitted, the council’s planning officers said the scheme would improve the appearance of the area and make Holgate Villas fit in more with its surroundings.

It was originally designed to be used by a single business, but later became a base for a number of smaller organisations, some of which had leases which were still to expire when the application was drawn up.

Several objections were raised over the hotel proposals in 2011, including claims its design would be too large and dominant for the area and local residents could suffer noise problems because of its 24-hour use.

Congestion concerns were also mentioned, but council planners said at the time that they believed this would not be a problem.