FEARS have been raised that the proposed York Central development - intended to create thousands of jobs - could lead to the closure of a rail maintenance depot and loss of 30 engineering jobs.

An employee at Freightliner Maintenance contacted The Press to raise concerns about the long-term future of its building in the middle of the York Central site behind the railway station, which may become York's first designated Enterprise Zone.

He said a fleet of rail wagons was maintained in the depot, employing 30 people. "Once the development starts, the tracks will be ripped up and the building knocked down, resulting in all us losing our jobs," he claimed.

"We understand that the site needs developing but why not keep the rail engineering and develop the site as an engineering site of excellence."

A spokesman for landowner Network Rail said the current depot occupied by Freightliner was leased on a short-term, rolling contract, which was agreed with the future development of the York Central site in mind.

"Our agreement with Freightliner is to work with them to provide some form of wagon maintenance facility in York, should they wish to continue to have a presence here, and we will continue to look at alternative locations to suit their needs," he added.

A Freightliner Group Limited spokeswoman said it currently had no plans to terminate the lease of the building and was continuing with plans to carry out work there.

"The company carries out maintenance work elsewhere in the York area, as well as in the building, and this will continue as rail movements require."

City of York Council said the bid for Enterprise Zone status -which will see businesses on the site enjoy five years of business rate relief with the council keeping rate revenues thereafter - did not prejudice planning, retaining some existing uses or specific business accommodation on the site.

"Separate to the bid, the council is working with Network Rail -which owns the land- and partners to produce plans for the development of the site, which will be subject to the usual planning processes including consultation with residents and businesses," said a spokeswoman.

"York has a long and proud tradition of excellence in the rail industry and it’s important that any future opportunities take full consideration of all partners’ views.

"However, we would like to reiterate that we are in the early stages of the bid, that nothing has been finalised and that this is all subject to a full consultation. It’s also worth noting that if the bid is successful works onsite would happen over a period of time over 25-years."