MORE than 1,200 people have spoken out about plans for a new community stadium and shopping complex on the edge of York as decision-day on the scheme draws nearer.

Oakgate (Monks Cross) Ltd’s planning application for a John Lewis and Marks & Spencer stores alongside a 6,000-seater home for York City FC and York City Knights is expected to be debated by City of York Council’s planning committee next month – and the proposals have drawn an overwhelming but splintered response.

Of the comments over the Monks Cross plans which have been submitted to the council, 693 have backed the project, while 413 objections have been logged and a further 129 people have made general observations. It is the largest response to a single planning application in the council’s recent history.

Supporters of the proposals say it would be an economic boost for the city and would safeguard the future of professional sport in York, as well as creating new community facilities.

However, the scheme faces fierce opposition from city-centre businesses who fear for its commercial impact on the heart of York. Concerns have also been raised about the effect of extra traffic which would be created.

Among the organisations calling for the scheme to be approved is the York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Susie Cawood, the chamber’s head, said: “I cannot over-emphasise the economic benefit of this development, especially at a time when the public sector is shedding jobs and the country is facing huge economic challenges.

“The Government has charged the private sector with growing the economy and this development provides a perfect opportunity to do this. York cannot afford to be complacent and has to show it is pro-growth, pro-business and pro-development.”

Recent objectors include York Environment Forum, which has warned the Oakgate proposals and separate plans to revamp the neighbouring Monks Cross Shopping Park would lead to seven years of public consultation over York’s planning future being “thrown overboard”.

Philip Crowe, the forum’s spokesman, said: “There is widespread recognition that out-of-town retail developments have had a detrimental effect on the viability of nearby town centres, and the council recognised this and has consistently opposed further significant out-of-town expansion.

“If it is determined to drive this project forward regardless of the consequences, it would call into question the purpose of the planning system.”

Oakgate has said the scheme would create 1,000 new jobs as well as 275 local construction roles and bring £12 million a year into York’s economy, but the owners of the Coppergate Centre – LaSalle UK Ventures Fund – recently revealed they would abandon their redevelopment plans for the Castle Piccadilly site if the Monks Cross schemes were approved.