A SECOND conservation watchdog has claimed that proposed changes in York city centre fire cover will put medieval buildings at increased risk of destruction.

The York Conservation Trust claims firefighters will take too long to get to fires in several timber-framed properties which it owns in the centre.

Chief executive Philip Thake said in a letter to chief fire officer Nigel Hutchinson it also feared insurers might increase the substantial premiums it already pays for the buildings, once they become aware of the increased risks.

The trust has joined York Civic Trust in calling on North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service to reconsider its plans to shut the main fire station in Clifford Street and build a smaller replacement station in Kent Street.

Under the proposals, one of Clifford Street’s two fire engines and its platform ladder would be relocated to Huntington fire station on the outer ring road.

Mr Thake said the trust owned nearly 80 listed buildings within the bar walls and looked upon itself as custodians of those properties for the people of York.

They included medieval buildings of timber construction which were “absolutely irreplaceable”, such as Lady Row in Goodramgate, which dates back to 1315 and Sir Thomas Herbert’s House in Pavement, which dates back to 1557 and is occupied nowadays by a shoe retailer.

“How could the bent oak beam at Sir Thomas Herbert’s House ever be replicated?” he asked.

But Owen Hayward, head of business development at the fire service, said the project would improve fire cover to the whole of York, including the historic centre, while reducing risk to life from fires and road traffic collisions to the north of the city.

“The attendance times to the historic centre will be largely unaffected, with the York Minster getting a fire engine in four minutes from Kent Street and six minutes from Acomb, while currently the two from Clifford Street take five minutes each,” he said.

“We have had a response to the consultation from York Minster who support the proposals, and we will be contacting both historic trusts to discuss in greater detail the improvements that these proposals will bring to the city.”