PLANS for a huge regeneration scheme - set to be named the Roman Quarter - have been rejected by City of York Council.

Cllr Mark Warters warned that the 10 storey apartment block risked "turning York into Chicago", but the developers said the plans for an archaeological dig at the site made it a "once in a lifetime opportunity".

The scheme would have seen three buildings on Rougier Street demolished to make way for a two-year £2 million archaeological dig.

A Roman visitor attraction and building of 211 apartments and office space would then be built on the site.

The plans had supporters and critics, who spoke at the council meeting.

Former councillor and chair of Indie York Johnny Hayes said: "I'm sure it will become one of York's most hated buildings. The chances of it getting planning consent without the Roman visitor attraction would, in my view, be nil."

Lindsay Cowle, a former conservation consultant, said: "The extensive excavation could not be justified."

And the council's own conservation architect said it is the biggest building she has seen in a planning application in York.

But Eamonn Keogh, speaking on behalf of the developer, said the building is no taller than neighbouring Malmaison or the Aviva headquarters.

“The importance of this scheme for the city cannot be overstated. The scale of this building is not at all at odds with this part of the city,” he said.

“It will enliven Rougier Street and support other regeneration.”

David Jennings from York Archaeological Trust, which is one of the developers, said the dig was expected to uncover Roman granaries or storehouses used by Roman armies.

He expects the discoveries to give insight into the origins of the city of York.

He said: “We know so little of the Roman city, we do not know the location of a single Roman public building in York. It is a very good place to dig.

“It’s a once in a generation opportunity.”

Judith McNichol, director of the National Railway Museum, and Laurence Beardmore of York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce spoke in support of the plans, saying they will bring visitors and jobs to the city to boost the economy.

The plans for the development were submitted more than a year ago and have been revised twice since then on the advice of the council’s planning team.

A council planning officer said that at one point they were meeting with the developers every few weeks to tweak the plans, which were recommended for approval.

The scheme will not have any affordable housing on site and the developers have offered a £500,000 contribution towards building affordable homes elsewhere in the city. The meeting heard this was equivalent to building about three affordable homes, which Cllr Michael Pavlovic said was a "huge issue" for the project.

Councillors rejected the plans by a majority vote of 11 to three, saying the size of the building is too large and the contribution to affordable housing too meagre.