A NATIONAL inspector is to decide the fate of a Victorian primary school in York.

Developers want to knock down former St Barnabas' CE Primary School building in Bright Street, near Leeman Road, and turn it into 14 one or two-bedroom flats. But a City of York Council planning committee rejected the scheme.

The applicant Daniel Gath has now lodged an appeal with the national inspectorate - fulfilling a pledge he made five months ago.

Before the matter went before councillors, he said: "If we lose we will not be going back to the drawing board. We will just go straight to appeal and take it out of City of York Council's hands."

The council rejected the scheme due to the mix of homes, saying there were too many flats and not enough houses.

Mr Gath said today: "They were looking for more family housing. In York as a whole. There is an argument for that, but these are low-cost apartments aimed at first-time buyers, in an area of large housing."

He said he expected the appeal process to last three to four months, and said: "We would not be spending on an appeal unless we had a good chance."

If the inspector does not overturn the councillors' decision, the Church of England Diocese of York stands to lose £400,000 from the sale of the site. That money would have funded new community facilities for local people.

Tony Warren, a member of St Barnabas' Church parochial church council (PCC), previously told The Press: "Leeman Road is in desperate need of community facilities. I do fully understand the concerns expressed but any delay in the sale of the old school will hinder any plan to bring quality community facilities to the area.

"The St Barnabas' Church PCC has gone a long way in the production of a feasibility study, and a number of local councillors and residents have visited the church to review the proposals and offer their support.

"However, the crux of the matter is that unless the school is sold and the maximum amount of revenue recovered these facilities may well not even get off the drawing board."

The council lost a previous appeal on the site, after rejecting the outline planning application.

Councillors said the school was a "landmark" building but the planning inspector called it "bleak and forbidding".

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