THE National Railway Museum has ruled out building a tunnel or bridge to help local pedestrians and cyclists access York city centre when its proposed new Central Gallery is built across Leeman Road.

Bosses say police have raised concerns about crime and safety risks posed to people using either a bridge or tunnel over or under the gallery when the museum is closed at night.

Museum director Judith McNicol said they would walk through a ‘dead zone’ past empty museum buildings, with few people about and a risk of criminals hiding and pedestrians becoming entrapped.

She also said increasing the size of the gallery with a bridge would block views of the Minster from the York Central development.

Instead, the museum wants pedestrians and cyclists heading into town from homes in the Leeman Road area, including St Peter’s Quarter, to take a detour around the side of the museum along a safer route past apartments and a commercial area full of bars and restaurants.

But she said the NRM had compromised by offering a revised, shorter route for the detour which would also take it through the edge of South Yard, the open area at the back of the museum.

She said it had been calculated that someone heading into town from St Peter’s Quarter would have to walk an extra 64 metres, taking them an extra 49 seconds.

However, their walk to the railway station would be 70 metres shorter, saving 53 seconds on their journey.

She said the change in journey distance and time would be similar for residents in other parts of the Leeman Road and Salisbury Terrace area, and people would also have alternative routes through the York Central site or along the riverside.

However, the decision looks set to prove controversial among some residents, with more than a thousand people having recently signed a petition calling for a guarantee of a round-the-clock, accessible and safe route through the museum amid claims it was “putting tourists before residents”.

The museum’s preferred option for access past the Central Gallery is contained in an addendum to the massive York Central outline planning application submitted to City of York Council a couple of weeks ago, which is set to go live on the authority’s website today.

This will spark a 30-day public consultation period during which residents, interest groups, businesses and political organisations can give their views, prior to likely consideration by the planning committee next January.

As reported previously, the plans include up to 2,500 new homes, ancillary retail spaces and offices as well as the new gallery, which will link the two sides of the museum which are currently separated by the road.