A VICTORIAN building on the site of the York’s old County Asylum is being demolished, despite objections from heritage campaigners.

North Lodge, the former clerk’s building at Clifton Hospital, is being torn down to make way for 14 new apartments.

Councillors on York council’s planning committee have given permission for the replacement building, but also learnt a quirk in the law meant developers could tear the old building down.

GEM Holdings first applied for planning permission to demolish and replace the building late last year.

The city archaeologist objected, saying although North Lodge was not listed, it was a “significant and prominent” 19th century building in York and its loss would be regretted. Planning officials at City of York backed that stance and in January recommended councillors vote down the planning permission, but the application was withdrawn before the meeting took place.

On Thursday, councillors learned developers could legally demolish the building, and have already started doing so.

Council development manager Gareth Arnold told the meeting the building was considered a non-designated heritage asset, but was not listed and therefore had no legal protection.

Demolition could go ahead without permission, he added, with the council approving the method not the principle of demolition.

At the meeting, Cllr Denise Craghill said it would be sad to see the building lost without any opportunity to photograph or record it.

The Victorian Society which campaigns for Victorian and Edwardian architecture, said North Lodge’s situation was a “common tale”. The organisation’s conservation advisor James Hughes said: “It just seems unnecessary, and ultimately it will irreparably damage the interest of the area, which is regrettable.”

The developers disagreed with that, and have said the old building was not in a good enough condition to be reused, and pointed out that councillors had praised the development for providing much-needed housing in an area with good transport links.

A GEM spokesman said: “The current building is not fit for purpose and could not be viably converted because of the many level changes within it and it would not have met modern standards."