PLANS to demolish wartime huts next to a York tourist attraction to make way for a new outdoor arts area are set to be approved.

York Museums Trust wants to knock down the asbestos-riddled structures, which date back to the Second World War, so an open-air sculpture display can be created between York Art Gallery and the Museum Gardens.

The site was previously earmarked to house a 53-metre big wheel, but the idea was dropped earlier this year to allow the trust to use the land for a public garden, which is expected to cost £300,000 and could open next spring.

The trust’s application for the huts’ demolition, new landscaping and access measures around the gallery and Museum Gardens will go before City of York Council’s west and city centre area planning sub-committee on Thursday, and planning officers have recommended granting permission for the work.

The scheme would see the existing lawn area being enlarged and footpaths created, although the trust has now decided not to pursue its original plans to also demolish extensions to the side of the art gallery.

“It is intended that the area where the huts are would be used as an outdoor display area for sculptures,” said a report by the council’s development management officer, Jonathan Kenyon.

“The huts are deemed to be of some historic and communal value, but their continued use is compromised by their high asbestos content and poor condition. Their removal is compensated for by the public benefits and enhancements to other heritage assets, and as the huts will be subject to a recording and report of their history.”

The Safer York Partnership has backed the demolition of the huts, saying the area at the back of the art gallery had become a favourite spot for drug users and the wartime buildings had created problems with burglary and people sleeping rough.

“The changes are welcome, as what is presently a derelict site will be brought into active use and visually enhanced,” said Mr Kenyon’s report.