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Monks Cross scheme divides heritage groups
HERITAGE organisations have given divided views on plans for a £90 million shopping scheme and a community stadium in York.
Proposals for John Lewis and Marks & Spencer stores alongside a 6,000-seater ground for York City FC and York City Knights will go before City of York Council’s planning committee later this month, but have split opinion within the city.
English Heritage has now backed the plans by Oakgate (Monks Cross) Ltd, as long as measures are put in place to protect archaeology in the area, but York Conservation Trust has said the plans should be turned down and claims they would “condemn” the centre of York to “decline for decades to come”.
The developers say the scheme would create 1,000 new jobs and bring an extra £50 million a year into York’s economy, while York City FC say the new ground is the only way the club’s future will be safeguarded.
Opponents of the plans, including city-centre traders, claim the scheme will wreck the heart of the city by forcing businesses to close or move, while the council’s highways department revealed last week they cannot support the current scheme because of its potential impact on York’s road network.
In a letter to planners, English Heritage set out its position by saying the development would not have a “physical” or “negative” impact on the nearby ancient Roman monument, a “practice camp” next to the site.
They added: “The application can be approved subject to the formulation of an appropriate archaeological mitigation strategy for the recovery of the archaeological deposits beneath the Ryedale Stadium [the previous name of the existing Huntington Stadium, which would be demolished and replaced by the new ground].
“The impact of the amended proposal on the significance of the heritage asset is understood to be of ‘less than substantial harm’.”
But in their letter to council leader James Alexander, York Conservation Trust directors Patricia Butler and Vanessa Butler said: “It will take the vibrant, vital heart out of city life.”
They added: “Many businesses and residents occupy York Conservation Trust’s restored and ancient properties. These businesses will suffer and have to cease trading due to fewer people coming into the centre of the city and tourists will not be attracted to an empty, soulless city centre, full of unoccupied buildings.”
Nick Brown, chairman of Browns department store, has also lodged a formal objection, saying “peripheral streets” in the city centre were “visibly suffering” and more free car-parking at Monks Cross would reduce the number of shoppers heading into the centre of York.