RESTORATION plans paving the way for the conversion of a 1950s York office block have been approved by city leaders.

Holgate Villa, off Holgate Road and Lowther Terrace, now looks set to be turned into 50 flats, after previous hotel plans were abandoned.

City of York Council has approved a range of works on the outside of the building, to make the conversion possible.

As part of the refurbishment, developers will re-clad the building, which they say will improve its appearance.

Artist's impressions have been sketched, showing its new copper-coloured design.

In a statement, the applicants' agent Darnton EGS Architecture said the new appearance had been chosen following discussions with the City of York Council planning department.

They said the design deliberately avoided replicating existing styles, to ensure it did not detract from nearby Victorian and Georgian buildings, and said it was "sympathetic and in keeping with the character of the area".

John Reeves, chairman of The Helmsley Group and advisor on the plans, told The Press last year when the plans were first unveiled that the flats would be relatively affordable, priced between £110,000 and £165,000 each.

He said the building was marketed for two years as a hotel but although there was interest an operator could not be found on agreeable terms.

Approving the plans, Jonathan Kenyon, development management officer for the city council, said: "The scheme would be of appropriate design, and there would be no undue impact on the amenity of neighbours or protected species."

Holgate Villa has five storeys at its Holgate Road end, reducing to three along Lowther Terrace. It was most recently been a base for several York voluntary and community groups.