ONE of Worcester's best known buildings is being turned into a £6 million retirement complex.

Worcester College of Technology's School of Art & Design in Barbourne is being revamped into 60 apartments for older people.

The overhaul has been unanimously agreed by Worcester City Council's planning committee, which said it would help meet some of the growing housing need for pensioners.

It is being led by developers McCarthy and Stone, and has come about because the art school, in Barbourne Road, is moving to the old Russell and Dorrell building later this year.

It was given the green light despite concerns from a school headteacher, would said it would cause him "immense problems".

Ian Taylor, headteacher of the Riverside School, which caters for children aged seven to 16 with behavioural and emotional difficulties, had an agreement with the college to use a building at the rear of the site for PE classes.

Under the plans it will be demolished to make way for 46 car parking spaces.

It was nodded through after committee members said the development would benefit Worcester as a whole.

Councillor Andy Roberts said: "The Riverside School is for children with emotional problems - it is more difficult for them to handle change compared to traditional schools, we need to bear that in mind."

But Councillor Roger Berry said: "This is obviously a very significant site for Worcester.

"I welcome this development and think it's particularly important for Barbourne."

Alan Coleman, senior planning officer, said: "In our view it's an acceptable scheme - we have noted the school's difficulties but that was based on an informal arrangement, there is no requirement to carry it on."

Councillor Gareth Jones did submit a comment for the committee saying he was "sad" about the developers wanting to change the use of the building, but there were also several written comments from nearby residents who were supportive of it.

One said it was a "fabulous" solution.

The developers will convert the building into 25 one-bed and 35 two-bed apartments, which will be designed as ''later living' ones for the over 60s.

It will include an on-site laundry, a lounge for them to mix and buggy storage for visitors.