MAJOR changes are on the way for homeless services in York, after the council decided to scrap existing plans and instead pour £10.5 million into a new site.

The money will be used to buy James House, former offices being converted into 60 flats, and it will become the city’s entire temporary homeless accommodation.

The deal was agreed on Thursday night at a meeting of City of York Council’s executive. Councillors heard all four existing temporary homeless blocks - at Ordnance Lane, Holgate Road, Crombie House and Acomb Road - will be consolidated into the one new building.

An earlier plan to demolish and rebuild Ordnance Lane would have cost £3.5 million, plus £3.6 million for new council flats on the site. That scheme has been scrapped after the builders Bay Construct went into administration, and council papers show £420,000 already spend will have to be written off.

York Press:

Council leader David Carr said: “We can’t help the contractor going bust - that happens all the time - but we have taken a commercial attitude and spotted a development opportunity that will in all possibility become a better solution.”

James House will be ready in eight to nine months, housing manager Tom Brittain said, around a year sooner than the Ordnance Lane plans, and former care home Oakhaven will not be needed to “decant” people from Ordnance Lane during the building.

Two of the existing sites, Crombie House and Howe Hill in Acomb, will be converted into new council housing, while 92 Holgate Road will be sold off and the money invested into James House, Mr Brittain added.

He also hinted the Ordnance Lane site could benefit from a major deal the council is looking into with the Homes and Communities Agency, or could be used for new council house building.

The meeting also saw the councillors agree an early deal with the Government body which could see it help build thousands of new homes using council-owned land. It will see the council be more proactive in trying to take some of the pressure in York’s overcrowded housing market, and councillors said it was a radical step change in York housing.