PLANS to close a major artery through York have been given the go ahead by the Government.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has granted proposals by the York Central Partnership to close Leeman Road.

More than 1,400 residents signed a petition objecting to the road closure, which led to a public inquiry being held to examine the plans for a permanent ‘stopping up order’ for the road where it passes through the middle of the two National Railway Museum sites.

The road closure is needed for the museum to be able to go ahead with a proposed major project to build a new central gallery across the road to link the two existing sides of the museum. Several neighbours spoke at the inquiry, with a spokesperson for the residents of St Peter’s Quarter saying the plans would isolate households from the city centre and the disadvantages of the road closure outweigh the advantages for people living in Leeman Road.

The inspector concluded the inquiry, saying he will prepare a report and recommendation for the Secretary of State by the end of May, and it has just been published today (September 23).

The decision on the stopping up order states that 'The Secretary of State is satisfied that there is a valid planning permission in place which was granted by York City Council. He is also satisfied that the area in question is highway and is satisfied that there is sufficient detail within the planning documents to determine that there is a need to stop up the highway to enable the development to take place.'

Before Leeman Road can be closed a new road will have to be built through the York Central site.

Holgate councillor Rachel Melly was one of those campaigning to keep the road open.

Reacting to the news, she said: "This is a huge blow for local residents, because for years they have been expressing their fears and legitimate concerns about the plan and about how it will make them cut off as a community. It will mean walking and cycling to the city centre and to get to work and school will be a much longer route.

"The road closure isn't at all necessary for the York Central development; the new homes or the commercial area. It is for the benefit of one institution, who could choose to develop and expand in a way that doesn't cut off thousands of local residents."

Fellow Holgate ward councillor Kallum Taylor said: "This decision is a travesty.  Every authority who has blindly or slavishly backed it, from the previous Lib-Dem Tory Council, to our current Lib-Dem Green one, the Railway Museum itself who are putting a huge two-fingers up to thousands of their resident neighbours, Homes England, and Network Rail - should be ashamed for driving this through and, worse, perpetuating the lie that York Central can only happen if Leeman Road is closed.

"Most residents are not anti-change but good development should bring people with it. This does the opposite.  It removes the only route between the Leeman Road area and the city centre that’s genuinely open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Remaining routes will be very indirect, prone to flooding, or dependent on the Museum’s opening hours and events programme.

"We will continue to fight to secure the best outcomes within the remaining possibilities for residents in this part of Holgate Ward, and beyond."

A spokesman for the York Central Partnership said: "We are delighted by the Secretary of State’s decision to confirm the Stopping-Up Order for Leeman Road. The announcement gives us the ability and the impetus to continue with our work to transform the wider York Central site into a new, vibrant city quarter offering a residential neighbourhood, buzzing cultural spaces and a thriving business district.

"As we move forward with our work, we will keep engaging with local residents and others in the city to ensure that their needs and their hopes for the project continue to be heard and can continue to shape York Central."

Objectors now have six weeks to lodge an appeal with the High Court should they wish.