YORK Civic Trust has given its verdict on plans for a new council HQ in the city centre, blasting one option and hailing the other.

The conservation organisation has given the thumbs-down to converting and extending Aviva’s Yorkshire House building on the corner of Rougier Street and Station Road.

It has given its strong backing instead to converting and extending West Offices in nearby Station Rise, opposite the old rail headquarters.

City of York Council unveiled the two potential sites for its new HQ earlier this year, following its earlier decision to abandon controversial proposals for purpose-built offices at Hungate.

The civic trust, which was fiercely critical of the Hungate building’s design, describing it as intimidating, alienating and unwelcoming, has given its opinion on the two current options in its annual report. It says the Aviva plan would involve a six-storey extension on its southern side, plus an extra rooftop on the rooftop of the existing 1960s building.

“These extensions would not only be inappropriate per se, but would also be very close to the Grade II* former North Eastern Railway HQ offices…which was approved in 2008 by the council for conversion to a prestigious hotel,” it says.

“The trust feels that the draft proposal…would not only seriously harm the setting of the Grade II* listed building, and thus be contrary to both Government and the council’s own policies, but could also jeopardise the success of a five-star hotel which the council has been yearning for over many years.”

The trust says it strongly recommends creating the HQ at the West Offices, which it says were built in 1841 and are Grade II* listed.

“It is proposed to retain the original railway station buildings, but include an “infill” of a lighter structure adjoining all three sides of the existing layout.”

The report says the West Offices are by far the better building in architectural terms.

“And, if well designed, the new “infill” building could demonstrate the benefits of marrying a modern extension with a restored historic building, and create a valuable and enduring outcome.”