AMBITIOUS plans to redevelop parts of York City Centre have won praise from a group of residents, despite their objections to parts of it.

The Guildhall Planning Panel discussed the proposals from the Helmsley Group concerning Coney Street and the riverfront at a meeting earlier this month.

As reported, the York-based developer seeks to convert retained buildings or demolish and replace others with new-builds of 3-5 storeys.

Boots and Next set to leave sites in Coney Street, York

This would create a variety of new shops, bars, restaurants and offices, plus student accommodation.

There would also be new public realm works, including riverside walkway and landscaping.

But some existing stores, such as Boots, Next and Monsoon, would have to close or relocate under the plans, submitted in December.

The Guildhall Planning Panel is made up of local residents who come together and discuss and respond to planning applications.

Helmsley Group submits plans to regenerate York's Coney Street

The panel said: “We welcome this proposal which opens up river views from Coney Street and develops a pedestrianised waterfront. We like the riverside treatment and the mix of building designs along the river.

“In addition, the proposal makes full use of the upper floors of the buildings on Coney Street some of which have been empty for a considerable time, and the treatment of the shop fronts is an improvement.”

However, the panel reports “some objections to the proposed design.”

Helmsley Group scheme now detailed on City of York Council website

A newly-created alleyway from where Boots currently stands to the river, known as ‘Waterloo Place’ would contain buildings 1-2 storeys too high. Additional storeys on 43 Coney Street would also be ‘out of character.’

The panel also said the pedestrian route under the riverside building on Waterloo Place would feel ‘uninviting.’

The proposals for the riverside is for 3-5 ‘leisure units’ with student flats above. The panel favoured a broader mix of uses, including residential flats and smaller ‘leisure units’ to increase their variety. They suggested a ‘Spark Riverside’ (without the containers).

Coney Street regeneration 'not affected' by £10m levelling up failure

The panel also said a courtyard behind 19-33 Coney Street “may be dark and uninviting” as it would be surrounded by a 3-5 storey building. Similarly, access from the river looks ‘uninviting’ and there was ‘uncertainty’ over a riverside walkway link behind 35-37 Coney Street.

The panel also sought details of the opening hours of the ‘leisure’ premises, noting the student flats above.

They also questioned what alternative locations would be available for ‘key retailers’ such as WH Smiths and its Post Office, Boots, Holland and Barrett, both during and after construction.

Max Reeves, development director at Helmsley Group, said: “We are grateful to the Guildhall Planning Panel for its positive comments on our proposals for Coney Street Riverside and we note its valuable feedback in some areas. We will continue to seek feedback both from them and from wider city stakeholders as part of the planning process.”

Comments to the proposals can be made on the council website.