OWNERS of a huge block of student flats in York city centre want to make rooms available to tourists, but the idea has sparked concern.

SC Walmgate Ltd completed its 648-room development in Walmgate last year but now wants to amend the planning permission so that up to 32 of the rooms can be used for short-term visitors.

It has submitted an application to City of York Council.

In a letter on behalf of SC Walmgate Ltd, James Taylor, associate director of Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners, said apart-hotels operated in a similar way to the student accommodation, with a concierge, self-catering facilities and access via a key fob.

He wrote: "The 32 rooms will be accessible to students or visitors and will be let out to visitors when there is no demand by students. The proposal will allow for a low-cost option for potential visitors to York and promote the tourism industry in the area."

York Press:

North Yorkshire Police have objected to the application.

Jim Shanks, the force's 'designing out crime' officer, said: "It is my opinion that integrating a transient population (short stay visitors to the city) with students on this site could have the potential to compromise security and the personal safety of students."

He added: "The risks here are self-evident, particularly when you are talking about young students who are vulnerable, inexperienced and who may have left home for the first time."

He said short-stay visitors could find themselves in conflict with students over such issues as noise for example."

He said if the application were approved, similar moves may be made at other student developments, and he would have further concerns. Guildhall Planning Panel has also objected has also objected.