YORK Minster has delayed a plan to turn a building it owns into flats after MP Rachael Maskell intervened.

The Dean and Chapter of York, which runs the Minster, submitted a planning application to turn its Church House office block in Ogleforth, a stone’s throw from the medieval cathedral, into 11 flats.

It would bring in £150,000 per year in rental income, which would help towards the £22,000 per day running costs of the Minster.

But the application was deferred at a planning committee meeting on Thursday after York Central’s MP took issue with the fact the Minster was not going to contribute towards affordable housing in the city.

Planning rules state that developers either have to ensure a percentage of properties are affordable or contribute financially towards affordable housing elsewhere in the city.

This can usually only be avoided if a developer can prove it would make their development unviable, something the Minster has not done, according to planning documents.

The Minster instead planned to put its contribution of £365,292 towards the restoration of the Mauley Window, a medieval window in the South Nave Aisle.  

According to the planning application: “The Minster report they receive no ongoing Government funding or central Church of England financial support towards the care of its fabric and relies on donations, paying visitors and funding bodies. 

“The cost of conservation works is hugely costly and ongoing. For example, the South Quire Aisle restoration alone is scheduled to take 14 years at a cost of £16m.”

Ms Maskell said: “The biggest challenge facing York is its housing crisis. Every day I hear how my constituents are inadequately housed, or living in damp, overcrowded or poorly maintained accommodation; how they are being ripped off by extortionate rents; and how they long to get onto the housing ladder, if only prices didn’t keep escalating. 

“Therefore, if any developer is seeking to divert funding away from the provision of additional housing using the section 106 funds, then I am ready to highlight their responsibilities.”

The building is currently vacant but was last used as offices for the Dean and Chapter staff.

Several development projects are underway across the Minster precinct, including creating a refectory at the former Minster School, as well as a makeover for College Green. 

A Minster spokesperson said: “The Chapter of York requested that the planning application be deferred to allow the opportunity to discuss recent concerns about the affordable housing contribution. The issue will be discussed by Chapter at its next meeting in February.”