SQUATTERS have occupied a site near York Barbican which has lain empty for the past 15 years.

Signs have been placed on fencing around the site, proclaiming: 'Barbican Community Centre' and ''Cut off rent, your money is better spent.'

A boat appears to have been taken onto the site by the squatters.

Several 'legal notices' have been placed around the site declaring: "Legal warning. Take notice. That we occupy this property and at all times there is at least one person in occupation.

"That any entry or attempt to enter into these premises without our permission is therefore a criminal offence as any one of us who is in physical possession is opposed to such entry without our permission.

That if you attempt to enter by violence or by threatening violence we will prosecute you. You may receive a sentence of up to six months' imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000.

That if you want to get us out, you will have to issue a claim for possession in the county court or in the High Court. The occupiers."

The Press reported in April that options were under review for the wasteland,. which had previously been earmarked for apartments.

The 2.2 acre site next to the StayCity aparthotel just outside the Bar Walls had been disused since the former Barbican pool and its car park shut in 2004.

The landowner, Persimmon Homes, had intended to build 240 apartments on the former car park and an adjacent former bowling green but abandoned the plans because of the economic crisis - though the aparthotel got built on part of the site where the pool had been.

In 2013, Persimmon secured planning consent for 187 apartments but work never started and the company put the site up for sale last year.

A Persimmon spokesman said in April that it was no longer for sale, saying: Our parcel of land off Barbican Road and Paragon Street has been removed from the open market as we review various options and enquiries.”

The land had previously been marketed through agents Savills which had said the site comprised two parcels - the main area to the east of the Barbican and Staycity Aparthotel comprising about 2.14 acres, along with a smaller parcel to the south west of the Barbican Centre comprising about 0.12 acres.

It said there was full planning permission for a building of 175 apartments and another of 12 apartments with associated access, parking and landscaping, dated 24th August 2017.

But, it said, subject to consent, the site would also be suitable to a number of uses, including redevelopment to a bespoke student accommodation scheme as well as care or leisure related uses.