The economic impact of a new office block and the 500 jobs it could bring to Worcester meant Sanctuary Homes’ plan to build in the city centre was given enthusiastic backing today.

The housing association’s scheme to put a new block in Farrier Street was approved by members of Worcester city council’s planning committee

Councillors were told that an identical proposal was approved in 2013, though never built, with the only change being that Farrier House next door, now used as student accommodation, was empty in the upper floors.

Councillor Roger Berry said: “This is a major employer in the city and completes the regeneration of Farrier Street.

"I’m completely in favour of it, and it’s only to be encouraged as it’s a great enhancement to the street.”

The fact that the only parking on site would be a few accessible (disabled) parking spaces and there would be storage for 25 bicycles drew praise from Councillor Louis Stephen.

He said: “I think this is excellent, it’s a sustainable site in the city centre and Sanctuary have a very mature attitude to this.”

Councillors were told that Sanctuary Homes had surveyed their staff who work in their existing building next door, to find out how many arrived on foot, or bicycle, or used public transport.

Councillor Jo Hodges added: “This is 500 more jobs for Worcester and that’s a great impact.”

Each floor of the building will have two large open plan offices with central stairs, lifts, services and smaller meeting rooms and offices.

The site is currently levelled, having previously been a Suzuki car showroom.

The housing association’s current main building in Worcester, Cameo House, is right next door, and the new building is designed to echo the look of the existing structure, with red-brown terracotta style cladding.

After councillors had voted overwhelmingly to approve the scheme, a spokesman for Sanctuary Group said: “‘We are really pleased that approval has been granted as it gives us the option of expanding the organisation in the future.

“We are proud to already employ more than 1,500 people in Worcestershire and will continue to look for opportunities for further local investment.”