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Care urged over Monks Cross shopping plan
AN MP has warned councillors should be “very careful” before turning down a huge investment at Monks Cross during such challenging economic times.
York Central MP Hugh Bayley has also called for an “imaginative” approach to Oakgate’s proposals to build more than 320,000 square feet of new retail space at the out-of-town shopping centre, to ensure the city centre does not lose out on business.
He suggested City of York Council might be able to impose a planning condition under which, for example, John Lewis would have to fund a free Park&Ride bus journey into the city centre for any customer spending perhaps £20 on an item.
Developers say the project would bring an extra £50 million a year into the city’s economy.
The MP’s comments come after sustained opposition to the proposals from some city centre traders and conservation groups, who are worried that an expansion of Monks Cross would have a devastating impact on traders and historic buildings in the centre.
Mr Bayley said that when plans for the York Designer Outlet at Fulford were unveiled in the 1990s, he had been “lukewarm” because of fears it would kill city centre, but that had not happened, and York could not now afford to stand still.
York council leader James Alexander said he welcomed and agreed with the MP’s view that earlier out of town shopping developments had not harmed the city centre, which remained one of the most resilient retail centres in the country.
“That Christmas footfall was up on both of the previous two years demonstrates this,” he said.
“Clearly many people visiting Monks Cross will be attracted to York’s historic city centre anyway, but the developer has committed to exploring ways to further incentivise customers to visit the city centre, and will work closely with the Chamber of Trade and other bodies to promote York as a whole.”