Beverley House in Shipton Road near Homestead Park will be transformed into apartments for people aged 55 and over, with later additions to the site demolished to make way for three new buildings next to and behind the house.
The building has been vacant for around six years, but was most recently used as offices for the Local Government Ombudsman.
Beverley House was bought by the Rowntree family and became the home of the general manager of the cocoa works in 1911. After the Second World War it was divided into flats and later into offices.
The building was home to the offices of the three Joseph Rowntree Trusts until 1990, after which the ombudsman staff moved in.
Councillors said they had concerns about 15 trees being cut down to make way for the work and called for clarification on the trees being replaced.
Matthew Newton from developer Inglehurst Property said after the planning meeting: “Gaining planning permission is a major landmark to bring this grand Victorian villa back to life and create a vibrant new community for older people.
“We will restore the former grandeur of the property by removing the unsympathetic extensions, and restore the original features of the majestic property.”
There will be 18 parking spaces, two of them disabled bays, all with electric charging points.
Coun Chris Cullwick said: “I think it’s encouraging to see a building which has not been in use for so many years being brought back into use and being brought back into use for a purpose for which there’s clearly a demonstrable need in the city.”
Coun Jonny Crawshaw added: “The loss of trees on the site is a shame but also i think that um you can’t develop things without losing some trees as long as they’re replacing that same number of trees and possibly more, that would be even better.”
But Coun Denise Craghill said: “I think there’s a lot of benefits to this, but I am still concerned about the trees.
“I know you would have to take some trees down to do a development like this but it’s really the mature trees and semi-mature trees that are still under risk and I think we have to consider how we need to go a bit further on this now in the context of our climate change policies because it is those trees, not small replacement trees, that are going to absorb the carbon over the next 10 years towards the zero carbon city."