CONTENTIOUS plans to install eight foot wooden gates on Monk Stray have been cancelled at the last minute, and the council is looking for a new site for the Grand Depart spectator hub.

In a surprise move, the city council withdrew a planning application for the new entrance on to the stray just hours before a planning committee meeting yesterday afternoon.

The committee was due to decide whether to permit the new the gates from Stockton Lane on to the stray, and looked set to follow officials advice to approve the plans even though many  residents had objected.

And in a written statement issued later the council's Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods Sally Burns said the council was considering a new location for the Monk Stray Spectator Hub.

Ms Burns said: "Accommodating residents and visitors, listening and responding to local people concerns about current ground conditions due to heavy recent rain, supporting the sporting legacy of the Tour in York, as well as the prevailing weather conditions have all been factored into a decision to consider relocating the spectator hub.

“Alternatives are currently being investigated, with early indications being very favourable.

“A further planning application for the gate off Stockton Lane will be resubmitted shortly, as guaranteed safe and adequate access and egress for the Stray remains an operational issue."

Committee members were given no explanation for the change of heart at the meeting. Development management officer Gareth Arnold told them the applicant - the council's own parks department - had sent a one line message to withdraw the applications.

But independent councillor Mark Warters told the committee he heard the plans would be withdrawn as long ago as Monday.

Lib Dem councillor for the ward Nigel Ayre welcomed the decision to withdraw plans for the gates, in the light of fears the gates would damage the character of the stray, cause traffic problems on Stockton Lane, and lead to large scale events being held on the stray.

He said: “This is another embarrassing episode for the Labour Cabinet Member and her plans for Monk Stray. It has been one blunder after another. First Labour’s attempts to get a licence to hold events every year on the Stray was defeated, then the Caravan Club pulled out of hosting camping on the site for the Tour De France, and now the plans to install a gate before the Tour have been withdrawn.”