THE first step in the biggest city centre development in York for years were being made today.

Detailed plans for the York Central site were going before City of York Council's planners. It outlines proposals for a teardrop-shaped stretch of land behind the railway station. The brief is the first stage in an application for planning permission.

It shows proposals for:

A modern business district in the centre of the development

Leisure, cultural and retail facilities for use by residents and tourists

Housing

A bus interchange which has been demanded in the city for years.

The brief also outlines the need for new transport links, and plans to link the railway station and the National Railway Museum in with the development.

Council leader Dave Merrett said: "This is a tremendous opportunity for the city, given that this is the largest single development site we're likely to see in York in our lifetime.

"We don't expect the planning brief to answer all the questions but, given the importance of this site and potential to the city, I hope everyone will take the opportunity to look at the planning brief and send us their comments."

Councillors were being asked to approve the planning brief today.

It will then be used for public consultation to show what is proposed and gather opinions and suggestions.

It would be available for viewing in council offices, libraries and sports centres between November 18 and January 20, with other exhibitions planned at venues throughout the city.

The development, which would cost hundreds of millions of pounds, is expected to take up to 15 years to be completed. It is not expected to start until 2005.

Coun Merrett said: "York Central provides the opportunity to meet several of the needs that we have in the council and the city."

Updated: 16:29 Thursday, October 31, 2002