NEW owners have taken over York's Coppergate Centre - and immediately pledged to come up with a sensitive scheme to extend the shopping complex on to the Castle-Piccadilly site.
Property giant Land Securities has sold the 200,000 sq ft centre and adjoining properties in Piccadilly to the American-owned company LaSalle Investment Management.
A spokesman for LaSalle said today the company had demonstrated its commitment to progressing plans for a second phase of Coppergate by appointing regeneration specialists Centros as development manager for the scheme.
"Centros will now commence discussions with City of York Council regarding the comprehensive development of various sites owned by the council, LaSalle and others," he said.
"Ideas will be worked up over the coming months before a formal planning application is prepared for submission to the council.
"The mixed-use scheme is likely to include retail, leisure and residential uses."
Richard Wise, chief executive of Centros, said: "York needs a sensitive and well-designed scheme to retain and enhance its appeal to tourists and shoppers.
"Redevelopment of the collection of sites adjoining Coppergate will provide an opportunity for new retail units, restaurants and quality homes, all in a historic riverside setting overlooking Clifford's Tower."
Plans by Land Securities to re-develop the land between Clifford's Tower and Piccadilly, mainly with shops, were thrown out by the Government in 2003 after strong objections from conservationists at a public inquiry.
Since then, the redevelopment of the area has been stalled as Land Securities weighed up its options, following the publication by the council in 2006 of a new planning blueprint setting out ground rules for the developers.
Land Securities portfolio director Gerald Jennings said today that the company was fully aware of the strategic importance of Coppergate and the neighbouring Castle/Piccadilly area to maintaining the vitality of the city centre. The company said its four employees at the Coppergate Centre, which was bought by the company in 1991, would be transferred to the new owners.
"We will continue to maintain our strong links with York through our involvement as a joint venture partner in the exciting £150 million Hungate mixed-use regeneration scheme, which is breathing new life into a formerly derelict area of the city," said Mr Jennings.
Council leader Steve Galloway said today the authority had worked closely with Land Securities to try to secure a regeneration of the Piccadilly area of the city.
Coun Galloway said the council looked forward to working closely with Centros to improve what was now the only remaining underused site lying within the bar walls.
He said: "I met with the company's chief executive, Richard Wise, a few weeks ago and was impressed with his commitment to provide York with a development which will not only enhance its economic performance, but also address some of the environmental concerns raised about what is a prominent and sensitive location."