A RETAIL giant which is hoping to open a store on the edge of York has dampened hopes that it could look at a city-centre site instead.

The John Lewis shop would be part of a £90 million shopping complex at Monks Cross if plans for the scheme and a community stadium for York City FC and York City Knights are approved by City of York Council.

The owners of York’s Coppergate Centre, who are planning a £200 million redevelopment of the neighbouring Castle Piccadilly site, have suggested a John Lewis store would be better suited to their scheme and said they would welcome talks with the company. They have been backed by city-centre businesses who fear Oakgate (Monks Cross ) Ltd’s scheme will damage their trade.

But in a letter to the council’s planning department, John Lewis’ property director Jeremy Collins said Castle Piccadilly would not be suitable for their needs as it would take too long to come to fruition. The authority is set to decide whether to enter into a development agreement with LaSalle UK Ventures Property, the Coppergate Centre’s owners, at a meeting of its cabinet tonight.

Mr Collins’ letter said the Castle Piccadilly site had a “chequered history”, following the public inquiry which led to the Coppergate II scheme being thrown out in 2003, and added: “It is very clear the site has significant challenges.

“Some eight years after the Land Securities decision [over Coppergate II], a revised application is still to materialise.

“This would not fit with our strategy for the region and the city. We consider Castle Piccadilly is not available for retail development within a realistic time frame.”

The letter said John Lewis had a “long-held ambition” to open a York store, which would create at least 300 jobs, cover 100,000 sq ft and be scheduled to open by October 2013.

LaSalle has said its target for starting work on Castle Piccadilly is three years, and based on a two-year construction period, the development would open in 2017. The company also said it could open earlier, in 2016, if a forthcoming consultation on its plans “goes smoothly” and could provide space for a 140,000 sq ft John Lewis store, while it is also in talks with “major national retailers” and an expanded Fenwick store may be part of the scheme.