PLANS to revitalise one of York’s biggest empty buildings have collapsed, leaving its future in doubt once again.

The Bonding Warehouse, beside the River Ouse, has been repossessed, and is now back on the open market. Property developer William Legard, from East Yorkshire, had bought the building for £1.1 million four years ago, but his plans to turn it into flats and offices failed to materialise.

The Press was unable to contact him yesterday but Eddisons, the Leeds-based firm of chartered surveyors, said they had been appointed by a bank as receivers to “handle the disposal” of the Grade II listed Victorian landmark, next to Skeldergate Bridge.

The firm is inviting offers “in excess of £750,000” – £350,000 less than it went for in 2007.

John Padgett, director of agency at Eddisons, said: “We are already seeing interest from a range of potential buyers.

“The building is being sold on a freehold basis with vacant possession and we believe the price is an accurate reflection of current market conditions.”

Ian Gillies, leader of the Conservative opposition on City of York Council, said: “The building is an asset to the city and needs an appropriate use. The last thing we need is to see if going into more disrepair.”He said the threat of flooding was a concern, although works have been carried out to protect the building against a repeat of the floods of 2000, which devastated the old Bonding Warehouse pub, restaurant and music venue.

Coun Gillies said he had heard it suggested that the building could become a museum to York’s chocolate heritage, but stressed that was only an idea floated at a university event he attended.

James Alexander, Labour leader of the council, said: “It is a shame that plans have not been brought to fruition regarding the Bonding Warehouse. It is a prime site by the river. I am open to other uses of the site but keen for the site to be brought back into purposeful use for the benefit of York.”

Susie Cawood, from York Chamber of Commerce, said: “I don’t think you can see this as a negative thing.

“Housing prices in York are doing well, and shops in the city centre are filling up, but whoever was developing it has decided not to, for whatever reason, so we’ve got to hope whoever decides to buy it will create something that will create new jobs and potential for the city.”

Mr Legard, a former farmer and estate agent of Lowthorpe, near Driffield, originally planned to turn the Warehouse into offices on the ground floor with apartments above.

When the property market collapsed in 2009, he decided instead to turn both floors into offices, but that plan also faltered.

The Bonding Warehouse, which was built in 1875, has two storeys in parts and four storeys in others. It covers over 17,000 sq ft and has from planning permission for redevelopment as offices and residential apartments.

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Here’s hoping for warehouse

WHILE York’s riverfront has been transformed in recent years, one iconic building remains unloved. The Grade-II listed Bonding Warehouse by Skeldergate Bridge has lain empty and boarded up since being badly damaged in the great flood of 2000.

Hope came along four years ago when property developer William Legard bought the building for £1.1million with plans to turn it into luxury flats and a restaurant. He said the work would take two years. It still hasn’t started.

Last year, Mr Legard told The Press he had little hope of selling the building because of the poor property market, and feared it could be five years before it was refurbished. Then, out of the blue, he thought a company was interested in taking the warehouse off his hands to convert it into a hotel.

That was five months ago; still nothing has happened.

We think it’s a great shame this fine old building in such a prominent location cannot seem to find a new lease of life. But maybe now it will because the warehouse has gone back on the market, this time for £350,000 less than Mr Legard paid for it, and the receivers say there has already been interest.

Surely, at long last, someone will now come up with the right idea for the Bonding Warehouse and finally let it work for the greater good of the city.

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