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Stadium and shops could boost York economy, says new report
TWO new stores and a community stadium on the edge of York would send a positive message about the city’s ambition, according to economic chiefs.
Councillors are next week due to debate controversial proposals by Oakgate (Monks Cross) Ltd for a £90 million retail development including John Lewis and Marks & Spencer stores, alongside a new ground for York City FC and York City Knights.
City of York Council’s economic development team has said approving the Monks Cross scheme and attracting “new development by blue chip companies” would show York is “open for business”.
Opponents have claimed the development would force city-centre businesses to close or move.
Katie Stewart, the council’s head of economic development, said in a report that York was now “punching below its weight” and must avoid becoming “complacent”, as its competitiveness compared to other parts of the UK in a 2010 national study had been relatively poor.
She said the retail element of Oakgate’s plans could boost York’s economy by between £12.4 million and £18.2 million a year, depending on its impact on existing businesses, while the stadium could bring an extra £1.4 million a year to the city initially and this may rise to £1.7 million by 2023. The findings also estimated construction work on the whole project could provide a “temporary stimulus” of up to £11 million a year.
The report said that if the Monks Cross scheme is approved, the city centre may face “challenges” in keeping and attracting investment if it starts leaking trade, and that plans to develop the Castle Piccadilly site would need a “major review”. However, it added: “The York economy is particularly resilient and the city centre does not rely on retail alone.”
A draft city-centre action and investment plan, included with the economic team’s response to the Oakgate scheme, said “new modern retail space” was crucial for the heart of York, but said its economy had to become more diverse. It said closer links with the city’s outskirts could turn a potential loss of business to out-of-town shopping centres into “an opportunity to attract more trade to the city centre”.
The plan said thought should be given to “more flexible use” of long-term empty buildings, “strategic investment” in sites such as Castle Piccadilly, attracting more business events, and improving York’s markets and the city-centre’s appearance and accessibility. Millions of pounds in additional business rates from the Monks Cross development, some of which York will be able to keep, could help pay for such schemes, it said.