A CONSERVATION watchdog and an MP have called on the Government to order a public inquiry into the massive York Central planning application.

York Civic Trust and York Central MP Rachael Maskell both argue that the scheme for up to 2,500 homes and 87,000 square metres of office space behind York Railway Station should be ‘called in’ by Communities Secretary James Brokenshire.

Trust chief executive David Fraser claims that the outline plan, which was approved by City of York Council’s planning committee last week, could have a "potentially disastrous impact" on the city.

He claims the authority’s ability to determine it impartially is compromised, as it is a major landowner and member of the York Central Partnership driving the project.

He also says that on the advice of Professor Tony May, Emeritus Professor at the Institute for Transport Studies, the trust understands that the basis on which the applicants assessed traffic impact was "highly suspect" and obscured the true effects of the development.

“The new access road will attract traffic through the development, and impose undue delays on buses using the Leeman Road Tunnel,” he said.

“The new development will substantially increase traffic from Clifton, Clifton Without and the A19 passing through Salisbury Terrace.”

Mr Fraser also criticises the lack of new health facilities and schools within the development and the scale of proposed massing and heights of buildings six to seven storeys high, arguing: “Such height and massing is contrary to York’s historic development and cityscape.

“York Civic Trust consider that to call-in this application, so that a local public inquiry may be used to determine York Central, is the only sound, proper and fair way to act.”

Ms Maskell has written to the Secretary of State to say she has been approached by a number of constituents and local organisations raising "serious concerns with the consultation and planning process, which they consider have so far gone unaddressed".

She says that due to the scale and strategic importance of the plans, it is essential they receive the "highest possible level of consideration and review", adding: "To this end, I would ask you to appoint an inspector to carry out an inquiry into the proposals which would help ensure the project proceeds on a robust and positive basis, would reduce the risk of legal challenges and help build the confidence and support of the community.”

An inquiry would cause an inevitable hold-up in the project, and there have been repeated warnings that any delay could result in funding being lost and even the whole scheme being jeopardised.

But a York Central Partnership spokesperson said: “We are delighted that the recommendation is to approve the outline planning application for York Central as we believe it is an ambitious, transformative and sustainable scheme.

“There are clear processes in place when a planning application is referred to the Secretary of State and we will now await a decision.”