Plans for a new Roman Quarter in York have been rejected by councillors.
The development was set to see a Roman visitor attraction, plus a ten-storey development of 211 apartments, offices and retail space, built in Rougier Street. The plans included a two-year archaeological dig on site.
But councillors on the planning committee had worries about the size of the building, the impact on nearby landmarks, affordable housing and whether it could bring high quality jobs to the city.
Developers and supporters of the scheme said it would bring an economic boost to the city and a new world-class visitor attraction.
But members of the public objecting to the scheme had worries about the size of the building and that the developers were using the visitor attraction to get the plans approved.
Councillors voted by a majority to refuse the plans – largely on the grounds that the building is too large and will have an impact on nearby heritage sites.
Brash ‘ugly duckling’
Cllr Mark Warters proposed refusing the plans, saying: “If we don’t protect the skyline, we’ll be responsible for turning York into Chicago.
“This could become one of York’s most hated buildings.”
Cllr Andy D’Agorne said: “It proposes a bolder and brasher ugly duckling to replace a less than energy-efficient 1960s building that is there at the moment.”
Cllr Nigel Ayre said: “This is entirely around economic benefit. The museum is the only positive that comes out of this proposal. I’m not 100 per cent convinced.”
The scheme will not have any affordable housing on site and the developers have offered a £500,000 contribution towards building affordable homes elsewhere in the city. The meeting heard this was equivalent to building about three affordable homes.
Cllr Michael Pavlovic said: “I have huge issues in respect of affordable housing. This delivers zero.”
But Cllr James Barker said he was in favour of approving the plans. He said the building is now designed to be lower than those surrounding it and that council planning officers support approval of the scheme.
He said turning it down is likely to deter other developers from considering building in York.
And Cllr Andrew Hollyer said: “The design of the building – absolutely fine, not every building needs to be Notre Dame or the Minster, it’s clearly better than what’s there now.
“The two main issues are economic impact and the potential loss of office jobs – but there’s no guarantee that whatever we do they will stay.”
Eleven councillors voted to refuse the plans, three voted against refusal and one abstained.