COUNCIL plans to build a riverside walkway along the River Ouse behind Coney Street have taken a step forward - and could include a new bridge across the river.

The project could see a walkway created along the north east bank of the river and a bridge built from the rear of Coney Street to North Street Gardens, according to a council report.

And City of York Council has now been given funding for a feasibility study to look at turning the plans into reality.

The feasibility study would look at “establishing the deliverability of a riverside walkway scheme along the north-east bank of the River Ouse within York city centre and a bridge to North Street Gardens, supporting the renewal of Coney Street and the support for long term economic prosperity of city centre, exploring mixed use, exploiting riverside and responding to early feedback from My City Centre and Castle Gateway,” according to a council report.

It says the authority has been handed £65,000 by North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership to look at the plans - and at a separate project to make the business space planned for York Central as environmentally-friendly as possible.

The report adds: “Covid-19 has accelerated the changes that high streets, towns and city centres were facing in terms of changing shopping habits and behaviours, whilst also giving rise to growing societal support for a green recovery.

“Both feasibility studies are in tune with this new reality and are important for the city’s economic recovery from the pandemic.”

The council is asking government for £10 million to create the walkway in a devolution deal - saying Coney Street buildings could become “dual facing” with entrances at the back of the buildings allowing new cafes, restaurants and shops to open.

The local authority bought the building occupied by Holland and Barrett in Coney Street for £2.796 million in December 2019 - saying it could be used strategically to “influence future developments”.

It has also been suggested that goods could be delivered to the city centre by river - in a bid to cut the number of delivery lorries.

Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning, said: "This is an early feasibility study into a city centre riverside walkway and bridge which is one of many ideas to improve pedestrian links and accessibility across the city, supporting residents and visitors to get around sustainably.

“The proposal could feed into a wider regeneration of Coney Street, which has been most impacted by the decline in traditional larger floorplate retail.

"The walkway could allow the repurposing of some of these buildings, opening up use of upper floors, and give new economic life to this area in York’s city centre.

“This is not a brand new idea and has been proposed historically, including the 1948 Local Plan proposals but is even more relevant now as part of our economic recovery and adapting the city for the future.

"The proposals remain technically challenging, with key heritage and flooding relationships for example. This study is an important first step in exploring their feasibility.”