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Councillors tour site for community stadium at Monks Cross, York
9:11am Wednesday 16th May 2012 in News
COUNCILLORS have spent more than two-and-a-half hours touring the site of one of York’s biggest proposed developments – accompanied by protesters including two “cackling witches and a cross monk”.
Members of City of York Council’s planning committee will tomorrow make a crucial decision on Oakgate (Monks Cross) Ltd’s controversial plans for a new community stadium and two superstores at Monks Cross, along with an expansion of the existing shopping centre.
Yesterday they went on a preparatory site visit to hear how the developments would impact on the existing shops, car parks, the local road network and Huntington Stadium.
Officials showed where the new John Lewis and Marks & Spencer stores would go, and how the 6,000-seater ground would sit slightly to the south of the existing stadium, which is currently home to York City Knights.
Two councillors, John Galvin and Brian Watson, grilled officials on the parking provision on match days, and were told 400 spaces would be allocated to fans at one side of the Monks Cross Park & Ride car park, with other supporters who parked elsewhere in the car park facing a £15 penalty.
Protesters included actors from York Dungeon in the city centre, who turned up dressed as a monk and witches to “curse” the development site.
Dungeon bosses said they shared the view of many businesses that the proposed out-of-town shopping centre could signal a death-knell for the city centre.
“We are bewildered by this proposal, which ignores the ample opportunity for commercial expansion within the city in favour of taking people away from it,” said general manager Helen Douglas.
“York is famed for being haunted,” she added. “If Monks Cross goes ahead the city could really become a ghost town.”
Another protester was environmentalist Gordon Campbell-Thomas, who was heavily involved in the successful campaign to stop the re-development of land near Clifford’s Tower a decade ago.
He said he now opposed “another lunatic scheme aimed at destroying the sustainability and viabilty of the city centre”. He carried a placard which read: “Ye Gods, The philistines are at it again,” a quote from Margaret Thatcher’s former press officer, Sir Bernard Ingham, about the Coppergate II proposals in 1992.