A MAJOR overhaul of one of York’s most recognisable buildings will be finished by this time next year, developers have said.

Oakgate Plc plan to start work on Stonebow House in January, and could have the work finished and all the benefits to the neighbourhood delivered completely within the year.

Planning agent Chris Darley told a planning committee on Thursday afternoon that his clients Oakgate were fully committed to the scheme.

Members of the city council’s planning committee overwhelmingly backed the proposals, and council leader David Carr said he fully supported the new designs as a distinct improvement on the current state of the building.

He also said the planned apartments would provide much needed housing.

Guildhall ward councillor Denise Craghill suggest several conditions be imposed - over how late any future restaurant operator could serve people at tables and chairs outside, and over what proportion of the commercial units could be made into pubs or bars.

All were voted down, with Conservative councillor Ian Gillies saying it would be “totally wrong” of the committee to tie the hands of the investor, and added there is a safety net of the licensing rules.

York Press:

“It’s alright when it’s not your money and you want to dictate what happens but I think it’s a step too far to try and move this forward,” he added.

Labour’s Cllr Mary Cannon backed the calls for conditions, saying: “I am sure I didn’t hear Cllr Gillies express to Cllr Craghill that it wasn’t her money and therefore she shouldn’t worry about it. We are a planning committee. It’s our responsibility to look at the buildings and the plans, and make our views known about the planning issues.

“I understand that it’s likely that many of the properties being developed here are going to cost £1 million or more, which seems to be the going rate for large properties in the city centre. We have had many discussions about the nature of affordable housing because soon in the city centre there isn’t going to be any.”

Next week councillors will be asked to approve the sale of Stonebow House’s freehold, and that of two other buildings, to raise more than £1 million for City of York Council Council officers want to sell to Oakgate, and to sell two sites on Redeness Street, off Layerthorpe, to developers who want to expand student housing nearby.

The sales would bring in around £1 million which could either be used to pay off council debt, or to buy the freehold of two sites off Hospital Fields Road which would bring in more rental income, and provide better development opportunities in the longer term.