YORK is set to get a stunning new Roman visitor attraction as part of a £150 million scheme to redevelop a city centre street.

Proposals have been unveiled to demolish three buildings in Rougier Street and replace them with the museum, a 145-bed hotel, 228 apartments, offices and new cafes, shops and restaurants.

There are also plans by York Archaeological Trust for a 'once in a generation' dig on the site of the proposed Roman attraction - similar to the one it staged in Coppergate in the 1970s prior to its creation of the ground-breaking Jorvik Viking Centre.

Society Bar would be demolished in the first phase to make way for the dig and Roman attraction, and the other two buildings facing demolition later are Rougier House and Northern House. Occupiers including Northern Rail would re-locate elsewhere in York.

York-based developers North Star, in partnership with the trust and hotel operators Native, are behind the ‘Roman Quarter’ proposals.

A spokesman said the project would add to the ‘renaissance’ of the area which already included the council’s West Offices HQ, The Grand Hotel, Hudson Quarter and the new Malmaison Hotel.

“As part of the plans, the former Roman road will be reinstated to reinvigorate this part of the city. It will connect Tanner Street with Tanner’s Moat and form a key part of the new attraction.”

He said the two-year dig - with gantries allowing the public to watch the archaeologists at work - was expected to be especially significant, given the waterlogged ground conditions which preserved organic matter.

He said the 33,000 sq ft Roman attraction would be double the size of the Jorvik Viking Centre and early predictions were that it would receive about half a million visitors per year and add £20 million to York’s economy.

“With artefacts expected to date from 2,000 years ago, and trial pits revealing the potential for major discoveries, significant Roman finds will be displayed in the new basement visitor attraction.

“The once-in-a-generation dig itself will have significant public benefit, creating excitement and engagement amongst York residents and visitors alike, as the layers of history are peeled back, and the public will be invited to share in the excitement as items are unearthed.

“The archaeology alone will provide a significant positive impact for the local economy, driving national and international tourism, and providing global exposure for the city.”

Trust CEO David Jennings said the project was a unique opportunity to understand York’s origins and find out more about how it developed.

“The location, next to the original Roman crossing of the River Ouse, and the scale of the dig site, makes us anticipate very exciting discoveries that link Roman Eboracum with York’s future.

“Items discovered in similar ground conditions in Coppergate helped change the world’s perception of the Vikings and made York world-renowned.

“The chance to do the same for the Romans makes this one of the most exciting projects in the world. Here, we can begin to understand how the Roman Empire shaped and fundamentally changed the world, creating immense temporal currents that can still be felt today.

“In its time, Roman Eboracum changed from Roman military base, through to a provincial capital where Emperors lived and died.”

A North Star spokesperson said the scheme would replace ‘unattractive buildings with a new iconic development the whole city can be proud of,' adding: “It will be the final piece in the jigsaw to complete the renaissance of this part of the city centre and also deliver something globally unique.”

People can find out more and give their views at a public exhibition between 1pm and 7pm next Thursday, July 4, at Society Bar and also by going to www.romanquarterconsultation.co.uk. A planning application is set to be submitted in coming months.