THE sale of a former garage and bus depot in York has been questioned by a heritage group over concerns the city would lose “a strong card” in plans to revitalise the Piccadilly area and a piece of aviation history could disappear.

Reynard’s Garage, which also once housed an aircraft design firm run by Nevil Shute Norway – later a renowned author – has been put on the market by its owners City of York Council, with planners saying it could be refurbished or demolished once the successful bidder is found and firm plans emerge.

The deadline for offers is next month and the council said there has already been strong interest in the building, which dates from 1921 but has been empty for more than a decade and is now derelict. The authority said its redevelopment would boost plans to regenerate Piccadilly.

However, York Civic Trust chairman Peter Addyman said the site was “an important piece of property”, saying: “In civic hands, it gives the city a strong card to play in determining the future of that part of Piccadilly - once sold, that card is lost, so we wonder whether the city is wise to sell it.”

Mr Addyman said the building had heritage importance despite its poor condition and still boasted many of its original elements, meaning it had some interest in industrial archaeology terms.

He said its primary importance was due to its history as the 1930s base for Mr Shute Norway’s firm Airspeed Ltd and the site where “the first few of a historic line of important and often distinguished aircraft were built”.

“Many of the iconic names associated with 1930s aircraft development had connections with the company,” he said. “The building represents living evidence of York’s part in an important national, and international story. It should not be lost without careful consideration, despite its current eyesore condition.”

The site was previously part of a development partnership between the council and the nearby Coppergate Centre’s owners LaSalle Ltd, who are now looking to redevelop several other sites they own in the Piccadilly area.

The sale advertisement says the Reynard’s building could be refurbished or redeveloped and had the potential to be used for offices, shops, housing, a hotel or leisure facilities.