THE front of York railway station is set for a major revamp costing nearly £29 million - and work could start on the scheme in months.

Under the plans Queen Street Bridge will be demolished, the buildings in Parcel Square and the Railway Institute band room will be knocked down and a new “simplified” road built in front of the station.

The scheme will also see a 636-space multi-storey car park built on the long stay car park behind the Europcar site and Railway Institute.

The archways in the city walls opposite the station will be opened up and Tea Room Square in front of the York Tap pub will be pedestrianised.

City of York Council’s planning committee gave the huge project the green light at a four-hour planning meeting on Thursday evening.

But campaigners have concerns about several elements of the scheme - the multi-storey car park, whether extra cycle parking could be created and if enough space has been given over to bus services in front of the station.

Andrew Morrison, from York Civic Trust, said the group supported the ambitions of the project – but that room for bus services at the front of station under the plans are “insufficient” and would lead to “delays and conflict”.

He added that there will be 1,300 total parking spaces at the station when combined with the spaces provided by the York Central development.

Tom Franklin, chair of York Green Party, said: “The multi-storey car park is entirely inappropriate, we need to reduce car parking.

“It’s a 20th century solution that will create 21st century problems. If you voted for the climate emergency in 2019, I don’t see how you can vote for the multi-storey car park now.”

Rachel Melly, Labour's transport spokesman on the council, said that while there were positive aspects to the station front planning application, like the removal of Queen Street bridge, it was also a missed opportunity to introduce extra bus stops.

She said York hadn't seen any new multi-storey car parks built in 40 years, but has now seen two approved since the Liberal Democrats and Greens took power in 2019.

“The Greens are, unfortunately, complicit in this decision to lock extra car journeys into the city for generations to come by allowing the application to come forward in the first place," she said.    

“Green Party voters will be dismayed to see how much their council is backing decisions that will lead to continued dependence on the car, as opposed to backing the more sustainable forms of transport required to tackle the climate emergency."

But Michael Howard from the council said: “The growth in passenger numbers at the station means that in real terms the multi-storey car park will represent a reduction in parking spaces per passenger.”

He added that the number of bus stops will be increased by four, adding that longer bus stops will allow buses to pull out more easily: “This should allow bus services to operate more efficiently with reduced delay.”

Niall Melvin from LNER told the meeting the multi-storey car park is needed for people who may drive to the station to make longer onward journeys by train.

He said the company recognises the need to reduce car journeys, but that there will still be parking spaces needed for electric vehicles.

And he added that there are ongoing plans to bring in e-scooters for hire at the station and to create storage space for bikes near the new multi-storey car park.

A new “airport style” taxi rank will run along the front of the station.

The council does not own all of the land involved in the scheme and negotiations are ongoing, according to a council report.

There are plans for segregated cycle lanes in Station Road, but a cycle route cannot be created between Tea Room Square and Scarborough Bridge as the land is not owned by the council.

The first work due to take place on site this autumn is the re-routing of utilities, in preparation for the bridge to be demolished.

Keith Aspden, leader of City of York Council, said: “I am delighted we’ve reached this milestone. The Railway Station shaped the York we know today, and will play just as significant a role in delivering the sustainable, connected city we need to be in the future. The challenges posed by the pandemic have reinforced the need for us to be on the front foot with our key regeneration schemes, including the station front and York Central.”