Victorian buildings near York’s city walls will be demolished to make way for student flats after councillors gave the go-ahead.
Aubrey House in Foss Islands Road will be replaced with a five storey accommodation block, with 62 bedrooms and 19 studio flats, plus a communal room and roof terrace.
York Civic Trust and the council’s own conservation architect had called for the building to be saved, citing damage to the historic character of the city.
Aubrey House is one of the last historic buildings in the area, which is mostly dominated by retail and industrial buildings.
Councillor Michael Pavlovic said: “Is it the type of building I’d like to see? I’m not overly convinced, but big, boxy buildings seem to be what we are getting in applications these days and I don’t think that’s grounds for refusal.”
Councillor Stephen Fenton said: “It’s not a thing of beauty but it’s a functional building and it’s not out of context.”
The block will be managed by the same company as nearby student accommodation, The Coal Yard.
‘Unsafe at night’
Council officers had recommended the scheme for approval, but noted that parts of the design did appear “monotonous and bland”.
Emma Lancaster, the agent for applicant Urbanite, told councillors that demand for student accommodation in the city “massively outstripped” supply.
She said: “Failure to provide sufficient supply will stifle the growth of the student population and important contributions to the city’s economy will be lost.
“Although Aubrey House is a reminder of the area’s historic past, it has no status as a heritage asset and it is now out of character with existing and proposed developments in the vicinity.”
Councillor Nigel Ayre said the area had always been one of the “least edifying” entrances into the city, which felt unsafe at night.
He added: “I welcome the addition of student accommodation around there – it’s actually bringing some life and some footfall to the city.
“In an ideal world I would love a lot of those buildings in that area to be significantly better designed, more interesting and have a better mix of uses, but they’re considerably better than they used to be.”
Carpetright, adjacent to the building, is to be turned into a 188-bed hotel.