FUNDING has been agreed for a half-a-million pound revamp of King’s Square in York’s city centre.

A cabinet meeting of City of York Council last night agreed to spend £490,000 to enhance King’s Square through the Reinvigorate York initiative.

The historic square in the heart of York often occupied by buskers to entertain tourists and shoppers, The revamp will see the area repaved and the raised area used by street performers refurbished. Once the refurbished square is in use, the council may look again at an application for café seating.

As reported in The Press last summer, plans for a street café outside York’s Chocolate Story attraction in King’s Square was bitterly opposed by performers and vendors in the area, who said they feared being squeezed out by the plans.

The café plan was eventually shelved following strong opposition to the idea.

Bosses at the attraction said they never wanted to drive buskers from the square and believed they added vibrancy to the area.

As part of the revamp of the area, plans are also in place to continue consultation over disabled parking spaces on the edge of the square, not to replace two trees at the roadside and to remove a tree on the raised platform for aesthetic purposes.

Speaking in support of the new plans, Coun Dave Merrett said: “It’s 40 years since there was any major investment in the square. The square is tired and there are people who have problems in terms of disabled access to the square.

“We certainly do need to update it. Really, it doesn’t do York justice in terms of the current state of the area.”

He said the revamp would have the same effect as the work done on St Helen's Square 25 years ago and would change its “character” and “ambience".

However, Coun Ann Reid, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said many would question the spending of such a significant amount of money and she suggested it could be better spent on road maintainance and addressing the problem of potholes in the area.

A consultation on the matter had received responses from 200 people, 55 per cent wanting the raised area to be refurbished and 44 per cent agreeing that trees in the square should remain.

Some 49 per cent stated they did not want café seating anywhere on the square, with 42 per cent of respondents supporting the idea.

However, the council indicated there could be outdoor seating for an open-air café but only after the refurbished square has been in use for a while so a suitable location could be agreed.

Meanwhile, controversial plans to axe York's winter green bin collections and introduce garden waste charges were also given the go-ahead despite cabinet hearing 1,850 residents had signed a petition against it.

As reported in The Press yesterday, the council hopes to save £360,000 over two years through waste service charges which also include closing Towthorpe tip on Wednesdays.