A PETITION launched against plans to close a main route into York city centre while flood barrier work is carried out racked up more than 130 signatures in its first hour.

Part of Terry Avenue near Rowntree Park would be shut as part of the Environment Agency’s 18-month flood alleviation construction programme in Clementhorpe.

But cycle campaigners say closing the route for that length of time would be “equivalent to closing Fulford Road” because it is a key link to the city centre for pedestrians and cyclists.

Under the plans Butcher Terrace, Clementhorpe and Terry Avenue will also be used as access roads for construction vehicles.

Kate Ravilious, from York Cycle Campaign, said: “We totally support the need for flood defences but we don’t feel there’s been enough thought put into alternative access arrangements and whether the path does have to be closed. It affects York city-wide, it’s an absolutely key transport link.

“On the alternative route we are being directed towards you are thrown out onto the Fishergate gyratory and Skeldergate Bridge - those do not feel safe to many people.

“We are asking the Environment Agency to think again and come up with something that’s less disruptive.”

She added that many people were “shocked and horrified” to hear the route is due to close.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said the scheme is a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to better protect the community, but there is limited access to the site.

A traffic plan prepared by the organisation as part of the planning application says shutting the route could create “a significant level of disruption” and the cycle route should be diverted across Millennium Bridge on to the other side of the river “totally clear of the area”.

The Environment Agency spokesman said Clementhorpe and Terry Avenue are at high risk of flooding and, as access is limited, Butcher Terrace was chosen as the “most viable” route for works vehicles.

He added: “An allocation of funding to York following the flooding of winter 2015 has given us a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to deliver a flood alleviation scheme in Clementhorpe and it remains a priority.

“Our aim is to better protect Clementhorpe, one of the city’s few undefended communities, from its existing flood risk and the future implications of climate change.

“We will continue to work with City of York Council’s highways department, and listen to the views of local groups and residents to ensure our work causes the least disruption possible, as well as minimising environmental impact.”

Micklegate councillor Jonny Crawshaw added: “Any major building work will always have a negative impact during the period of construction and I completely understand the distress this can cause.

“I remain very keen to ensure that the Clementhorpe community is protected from flooding and at the same time we must ensure that cyclists and pedestrians have a safe and easy route into town.”

He said the cycle route around Skeldergate Bridge is “inadequate” and hopes there will be ways to improve the current diversion plan as well as permanently upgrading the route for cyclists.

Find the planning application at planningaccess.york.gov.uk.