MULTI-million pound plans to massively expand York’s Park&Ride service will go before city leaders next week.

City of York Council’s ruling executive will receive an update on the first stage of Access York, a landmark scheme, backed by The Press, which aims to tackle congestion and pollution on the city’s roads.

The regional transport board has already pledged £24 million to the project, meaning the council can proceed with plans for new Park&Ride sites at Askham Bar, the A59 corridor, and Wigginton Road at Clifton Moor.

Council officials are now set to start drawing up planning applications for the three sites, and are preparing a detailed bid to the Department for Transport for further approval.

Any withdrawal of support could prove highly costly for the council, but its roads boss Steve Galloway said: “I am not anticipating the Government changing its mind in such a way that would jeopardise the Park&Ride proposals.”

The council is bracing itself though for a possible battle when planning applications are submitted for the three sites.

Coun Galloway said: “In the past, any proposal of this size has attracted opposition from people who have a vested interest of one sort or another, so it will go through the planning process in the normal way. As always, it’s a question of what is for the benefit of the greatest number of people in the city and I think the Park&Ride proposals certainly are essential from the point of view of reducing congestion and hence improving the economic competitive position of the city.

“We are talking about the environment and about people’s jobs, but I do recognise that there will be those who live near the sites who will have comments to make on the detail of the plans.”

If all goes according to plan for the council, work on the three sites will begin between February and July 2010, and be completed the following year.

The A59 project could also see a subway constructed beneath the A1237 outer ring road, for cyclists and pedestrians.

The council has yet to decide whether to pursue that part of the scheme, which would cost about £700,000, but could also tie in with the city’s newfound status as a Cycling Demonstration Town. At its meeting next Tuesday, the council executive will be asked to set up a project board, which will meet every three months, and also to approve plans for consultations over the three sites.