WORK is set to start next month on the construction of a new fire station in York city centre, along with an upgrade of the existing station at Huntington.

The new station, which will be built on the site of a former coach park in Kent Street, will replace the existing, outdated complex in Clifford Street as part of a £4 million investment in York.

A fire service spokeswoman said the project had a provisional start date of mid to late February, but this would be subject to suitable weather.

She said the scheme was expected to take between nine and 12 months, with a targeted completion date of next January.

The Kent Street station will have only one whole-time crewed fire engine, compared with the two engines currently based in Clifford Street. One of the engines will be transferred to the station on the outer ring road, near Huntington.

The proposal to downgrade city centre cover was greeted with protests in 2011 by York conservationists and the firefighters union, the FBU.

Organisations such as York Civic Trust and York Conservation Trust argued that the reduction in cover would put medieval, timber-framed buildings within the heart of York at greater risk of destruction.

But the fire service said there would only be a very slight increase in the time taken by firefighters to get to city centre properties.

At the same time, there would be a significant improvement in tackling fires in communities to the north of the city such as Huntington and Clifton Moor, and in dealing with road accidents.

The spokeswoman said yesterday that as well as the fire engine, a rescue boat would also be based at the station, with a further boat located on the River Ouse.

The station – which would feature the traditional fireman’s pole – would also include a fire safety office and a room for local community groups to use.