A DISABLED woman from York has launched a petition over the decision to repave part of a historic city-centre square.

City of York Council is carrying out a £490,000 revamp of King’s Square which it says will provide better seating, pedestrian access and street-performance space and improve its appearance.

Some of the cobbled pathway at King’s Court will be replaced as part of the facelift, part of the wider Reinvigorate York scheme, and while this paving dates from the 1970s it has sparked debate about whether the stones should be retained regardless of age due to being part of the city’s charm.

Michelle Wyatt, 38, from Acomb, who suffers from chronic fatigue condition ME and uses a wheelchair, has begun collecting signatures in King’s Square for a petition calling for cobbles across York to be kept, saying they are “an experience of times gone by”.

She said stone setts like those in the square would not cause problems for disabled residents and visitors.

The council stressed the scheme’s main focus is to make King’s Square “a world-class space” rather than to improve disabled access, and no changes will be made to Shambles, contrary to suggestions in national newspaper reports. It also said consultation took place before the scheme was agreed and this would also happen with future Reinvigorate York projects.

Michelle, whose petition had been signed by about 150 people yesterday, said: “I don’t think the paving needs doing – you don’t update or upgrade history, you restore it.

“There is the argument the cobbles only date from the 1970s, but they are fine as they are. If enough people sign this petition, I hope it will show how people feel if there are any similar plans for other cobbles in the city in the future.”

The council’s plans have sparked much debate. The author of the York Stories website said the paving being replaced was “historic” if not “ancient”, saying: “It’s very handsome, functional and fits with the York aesthetic as it matches other nearby lanes.”

The website said many people had mistakenly believed the scheme was about Shambles, although the square was equally important.

The council said King’s Court was largely made up of tarmac or brick until the 1970s and Reinvigorate York was designed to boost businesses, reduce clutter, attract more city-centre footfall and maintain York’s tourism status.

Darren Richardson, director of city and environmental services, said: “The quality of York’s public spaces is fundamental to sustaining the city’s prosperity, and it’s important to everybody who lives, works, visits and invests in our city.”