A LACK of high-quality office space could leave York vulnerable to losing businesses and jobs, according to a former councillor.

He said plans to invigorate the city centre economy did not look at the importance of workspace for businesses.

Speaking at a City of York Council meeting, Dave Merrett said: “I think there’s a real danger that we actually risk losing more of the office employment and professional jobs in the city.

“We know York is quite vulnerable to chief executives deciding to up and go somewhere else. We really need to do something.

“The availability of office accommodation in the city centre is extremely poor. It has become more and more difficult to find accommodation for businesses.

“Offices offer business for retailers too - they provide a lot of lunch time weekday business, so let’s not forget them.”

Lib Dem Fulford councillor Keith Aspden, executive member for economic development, said he will ask other party leaders to join him in lobbying the government for permitted development rights.

The rights would mean any planning applications to turn offices into flats, shops or any other use could be stopped by councillors.

Cllr Aspden said: “I would be happy to support any efforts to lobby for permitted development rights and see if the government listen, I’m sure that would be supported across parties.”

Corporate director of economy and place at the council Neil Ferris said office space is a “highly important” part of the city’s economic plans.

He added that the York Central development is set to provide 100,000 sqm of grade-A offices and there are also plans for business premises in the Guildhall and the Castle Gateway development.

Developer Palace Capital plc highlighted a need for good quality office buildings in the city as part of its plans to refurbish 5,500 sq ft of workspace in the building on the corner of Museum Street and Lendal.