CAMPAIGNERS against the installation of ticket barriers at York Station have received a major boost, after national conservation body English Heritage opposed the plans.

The organisation has formally objected to moves by National Express East Coast (NXEC) to put barriers across the station concourse.

NXEC says the barriers, which mean passengers can only access platforms if they have a valid ticket, will help prevent fare-dodging and improve security but more than 240 residents, rail passengers, and campaigners have now objected.

The consultation period was extended at English Heritage’s request, and the organisation has now broken its silence with a strong criticism.

Historic buildings inspector Diane Green said English Heritage was not opposed to barriers “in principle” but said those proposed by NXEC were too high, and said the kiosks planned for beside the barriers would clutter up the concourse area.

She said: “The need for the proposal in its present form has not been justified.”

Ms Green said the platform signal box and bookshop, now occupied by WH Smith, would suffer if a new ATM kiosk were located nearby.

The signal box dates back to the first decade of the 1900s and Ms Green said: “Its immediate surroundings should not be cluttered by kiosks.”

Ms Green said the proposed layout of kiosks and barriers was “visually messy” and said that if barriers were to be installed, there should be more symmetry across the concourse.

She also raised concerns over the visual impact of new travel information boards, and added: “There is a danger in this case of perpetuating and in some cases augmenting a disorderly appearance that would be detrimental to the visual appearance and appreciation of the station.”

NXEC this week issued a fresh statement on its case for barriers, saying the plan was part of its agreement with the Government when it won the franchise for the East Coast Main lLne.

The firm also said: “There are ongoing issues at York Station in relation to fare evasion and loss of revenue, vandalism and antisocial behaviour, while we take extremely seriously the safety and security of rail customers and staff.

“There have been incidents of antisocial behaviour and vandalism at the station, within the toilets for example.

“We believe the gating scheme will not only improve safety and security but also make the station a more pleasant environment and experience for the rail customer.”

The public consultation on the plans ends next Wednesday. City of York Council expects to decide the application at a planning meeting on February 12.