CITY councillors last night opted to press ahead with plans for a western access road into the York Central development site - taking the new route via Millennium Green but away from Holgate.

The move was called a “milestone" in the road to delivering a nationally significant site. Last night’s decision means more detailed work can now start on the route before a planning application is drawn up.

Members of the development partnership including the National Railway Museum, the government’s Homes and Communities Agency, and Network Rail, queued up to lend their support.

Judith McNicol, from the National Railway Museum (NRM) said solving the access road issue would enable the museum to push ahead with its own master-planning for the future and help it boost visitor number, while the western option would lower traffic volumes for its neighbours around Salisbury Terrace.

Councillors also agreed to look at things like renewable energy on the site, after Andrew Waller - the executive member for the environment - pushed for extra commitments on sustainability and community engagement.

Some concerns were raised by residents who went to the meeting, particularly about a recommendation that the southern route option via Holgate remain open. Tracey Carter, the council’s assistant director of regeneration, said that option had to be retained in case “insurmountable” problems cropped up on the western route off Water End.

Using the vacant land is something the city has been aspiring to for a long time, Ms Carter added, and the access road decision is an important step on the way.

Holgate Road resident Aileen Hingston told the executive members that although progress on the site was welcome, it was vital to consider the traffic issues on the already congested Holgate and Poppleton roads.

The meeting also heard that the York Central Partnership is offering to pay for legal advice for the trustees of Millennium Green, to help them establish how they should negotiate over the land they care for.

Labour group leader Janet Looker praised the community groups which have campaigned on the route, and urged them to keep an “eagle eye” on the development as it progresses.