MAJOR improvements to the areas around York's historic Bars may not be possible because of cost and complexity, council transport bosses have warned.

A "streetscape strategy", designed to guide the future of streets and public spaces, has been produced by City of York Council as part of its Reinvigorate York facelift programme, and says the city's five Bars and their settings must be dramatically improved.

The document said street surfaces immediately either side of the Bars should be replaced with natural materials to enhance the special qualities of the structures. However, it also admits funding may be a problem for many of the schemes it suggests, and council transport planners have echoed this concern.

Giving this department's response to a consultation on the strategy, transport planner Andy Vose said: "It may be very difficult to resurface footways and carriageways 20m away from each bar in natural materials, as this will encompass quite a few large inner ring road junctions.

"Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar will both involve a huge expanse and be very costly."

The transport planning team also said opportunities to widen pavements in city-centre streets were "few and far between", and that while it could be possible on some streets by removing parking, this "may be controversial, especially if it is disabled parking".

It also questioned the strategy's claim that "successful 20mph zones and areas" had been introduced in parts of York such as Acomb and South Bank, saying this "assumes an outcome which hasn't yet been proved".

The strategy suggests the route into York from the railway station needs a major overhaul, the city-centre is too cluttered and does not have enough cycle-parking, seating and public art, and cycling schemes need more investment but pedestrians may need better protection from bikes on footstreets.

It says the council should consider banning estate agency signs in conservation areas and cracking down on the use of amplified sound by street performers.

Organisations including English Heritage and York Civic Trust, as well as members of the public, took part in the consultation on the strategy, which is now set to go before the council's cabinet to be formally adopted as a "key document" for York's future.