York Minster has put its plan to create 11 luxury flats on hold after a city MP intervened.
YorkMix revealed last April that the Dean and Chapter wants to turn its Church House office block on Ogleforth into flats.
The plan would bring in £150,000 per year in rental income – which would help towards the £22,000 a day it costs to run the Minster.
But concerns were raised when a council report showed the Minster wasn’t expecting to pay an affordable housing contribution.
Under planning rules, property developers either have to ensure a certain percentage of homes are affordable, or pay a contribution towards affordable housing in York – known as a section 106.
In the case of Church House, that would be £365K. But the council report said this money would instead be redirected towards a Minster conservation project, specifically restoring the medieval Mauley Window in the South Nave Aisle.
York Central MP Rachael Maskell has since contacted the Minster to raise her concerns about this recommendation.
“We have a housing crisis in York, and each day, I see the suffering of families who are inadequately housed, being ripped off for poor quality rented accommodation or sadly homeless,” the Labour MP told YorkMix.
“The heating up of the housing market due to the luxury accommodation developments in York are pushing local people further and further away from their city, impacting on jobs and services and deepening inequality.
“This is why I am relentless in making the case for ‘local housing for local people’. We need leaders who promote good social values to not only uphold these principles but to do all they can to meet the spirit as well as the letter of the section 106 requirements as a minimum.”
After she intervened, the Dean and Chapter asked for their plan to be deferred at the area planning sub-committee.
A York Minster spokesperson said: “The Chapter of York requested that the planning application be deferred to allow the opportunity to discuss recent concerns about the affordable housing contribution.
“The issue will be discussed by Chapter at its next meeting in February.”
Ms Maskell said: “I did speak to York Minster about their proposals and am glad that they are now reflecting on their application.
“In Parliament, I am fighting hard to change planning legislation when the Planning Bill comes forward, to ensure that councils put local need first, something we haven’t seen in York for a very long time.”