PLANS for a luxury holiday flat in Rowntree Park Lodge have been put on hold by the council.

City of York Council wanted to turn the top floors of the building, above the Reading Cafe, into a short term rental that was expected to bring in £380,000 during 15 years.

The cash was to be spent on the park.

But residents and councillors raised fears about the plans - including whether people would be safe next to the lake in the dark and if hen and stag parties could use the flat as a place to party.

Former Micklegate councillor Johnny Hayes criticised the spiralling cost of the project - saying half a million pounds of taxpayers’ money was to be spent on the scheme and the flat would be £420 a night to rent.

He said he was “delighted” to hear plans for the holiday flat had been paused and the rooms could now be used for community activities such as art classes, poetry reading and horticultural workshops.

More than 500 people responded to a questionnaire about the plans.

Mr Hayes said: “I’m delighted that the council have decided not to go ahead because I think that since those plans came out there’s lots of people thinking they would much rather see the space used for the community.

“The response has been incredibly positive. There have been lots of different suggestions.

“It’s a small space but it’s the sort of space I think will be very well used.

“It would benefit the Reading Cafe as well because it would bring in more customers.

“It’s a much-loved park and people have very positive associations with the park.”

He added that the next step is to put together a business case for the rooms.

James Gilchrist, the council's assistant director for environment, said: “Consultation on plans to generate income to support Rowntree Park, by converting Rowntree Lodge into a holiday let, has been paused to allow for further discussions with Nestle [they have a restrictive covenant on the park, ensuring that the park continues to provide public recreation].

“The primary purpose of this proposal was to provide a sustainable financial future for the park, with a potential for £380,000 to be reinvested in the park over the next 15 years.”

He said the council is "open to considering alternative community uses for the property" but that significant investment will be needed to refurbish the building and officers will report to councillors in the autumn.

Senior councillors had approved a further £110,000 of funding towards the project at a meeting in February after the discovery of asbestos and changes to the plans to create a third bedroom.

The Reading Cafe was also due to shut for 12 weeks while the work was carried out with the council planning to pay £30,000 in compensation to the business.