PLANS for a new Roman visitor attraction in York city centre have been revised - and the scheme has been backed by the author of the bestselling Horrible Histories books.

The initial Roman Quarter proposals - to be built on Rougier Street - were criticised for their height by York Civic Trust and some residents.

But a number of archaeologists, residents and Horrible Histories author Terry Deary have thrown their support behind the project - which would include a two-year archaeological dig on site followed by a Roman visitor attraction.

Apartments, shops and offices would also be built as part of the scheme put forward by York Archaeological Trust (YAT) and developer North Star.

Mr Deary's letter says: "I have written many populist history books for children (mainly the "Horrible Histories" series) and the era that attracts the most international attention is the Roman age, with 30 translations from Brazil and Japan to Lithuania and Sweden.

"York has its magnificent Roman walls and adding a tourist attraction to the archaeological and aesthetic attraction [...] it would be guaranteed to enhance York's reputation as a tourist destination.

"Under the management of YAT the new Roman site would be in safe hands and the value to the local economy enormous."

"Thanks to the work of York Archaeological Trust the city has become renowned as a centre of Viking culture.

"It is a magnet for serious historical study, but also (thanks to attracttions like Jorvik), for popular general interest to tourists. Schools studying the Viking era are grateful for the resources York provides."

Fifty six letter of support have been submitted for the scheme - many from archaeologists, and 32 letters objecting to the plans.

In response, developers say the number and type of apartments planned has been reduced from 290 to 250 with a focus on larger homes for families. And the designs altered to use more stone and less glass to fit in with surrounding buildings.

Three buildings on Rougier Street – Northern House, Rougier House and Society Bar – will be demolished to make way for the development. The scheme is due to create 450 jobs.

David Jennings, chief executive of York Archaeological Trust, said: “We have had a superb response to the concept of the Roman visitor attraction, and indeed, enormous excitement about the potential of the archaeology that we will be uncovering during the dig if the plans are approved.

"We know that this site has had many uses over the last 2,000 years, and we are very pleased to be partnering with an organisation that sees the building as an integral part of the city’s future – helping to regenerate this area, a fascinating and important place in the city at various points in history, with a building that fits into the urban landscape of Rougier Street and Tanner’s Moat.

"We hope that these changes will bring the public along to be as happy with what will be above ground as they are with the concept of the attraction below modern street level.”

A spokesperson for developer North Star said: “We want to deliver this exciting project as quickly as possible which is why we have amended the plans.

"In the post-Covid uncertain economic times, we feel that this project will be a major boost to York City Centre and help with York’s economic recovery.

"It will raise the city’s profile, create a fantastic new educational and cultural attraction and will show the city moving forward.

“We’ve taken on board comments about the height of the development and have now lowered the proposals to make this building the lowest of the four large buildings in the immediate vicinity.

"We strongly believe that this addresses the main issue that was raised.

“The feedback and support we have had on the proposals has been very encouraging and these plans offer a once in a generation opportunity to create something unique for the city that we can all be proud of.”