A LEADING York heritage group is now backing a major redevelopment in the city centre.

After previously opposing original designs to redevelop Coney Street, the York Civic Trust is now supporting amended proposals.

York based developers, the Helmsley Group, first submitted a planning application to City of York Council in December 2022, which involved major regeneration of Coney Street’s retail, leisure, commercial, and residential spaces - including a riverside walkway and student accommodation.

Earlier this month, an independent report said the scheme would deliver £175million of economic benefits to the city over 15 years, equivalent to £3.93 for every £1 invested in it.


York Civic Trust, which is a formal planning consultee for City of York Council, objected to the initial scheme due to concern about an ‘underwhelming’ public realm, the size of buildings on the river front, and access and safety issues.

Taking these concerns into account, Helmsley Group and their architects have worked closely with York Civic Trust, as well as a range of other groups and organisations, to establish a design that better benefits the city.

Under the revised proposals, submitted in November, the riverside buildings have been setback to provide a stronger public realm including a link between the river and the street, and improved access issues by reducing potential bottlenecks.

York Press: Images from Helmsley Group's proposal for Coney Street Riverside

Now, York Civic Trust has supported the revised scheme, appreciating Helmsley Group’s receptiveness to their original comments, and call the scheme a ‘once in a century opportunity.’

Andrew Morrison, CEO of York Civic Trust, said: “We previously objected to the detailing of the scheme, although we welcomed the principle behind it. This is a once in a century opportunity to reconnect the city centre’s commercial heart with the river, just as it was centuries before. It can create a new community and bring economic benefits including regeneration of Coney Street.”

“The revised scheme addresses issues we raised, and the modest impact on heritage and setting has been balanced by positives from the scheme. We therefore support the application.”

In the comment submitted to the Council, York Civic Trust said that they supported the revised scheme due to, ‘the improved architectural design of newbuild on Coney Street’ and, ‘a more organic and varied use of shopfronts.”

The comment also states that, ‘the balance in favour of the scheme is largely dependent on the realisation of the riverside walkway.’

Max Reeves, development director at Helmsley Group, said: “Throughout our extensive planning for Coney Street Riverside we have taken a heritage-led approach to regeneration, working in close partnership with key organisations across York.    

York Press: The Coney Street Riverside walk

“Both Helmsley Group and York Civic Trust are passionate about working tirelessly to shape the future cultural and economic prosperity of York, whilst being sensitive to its unique history and heritage.”

“We are grateful to York Civic Trust in its influential role as a formal planning consultee to City of York Council for supporting our application.”

The outcome of Helmsley Group’s planning application is anticipated to be determined by City of York Council in the coming months.