PLANS for new phone kiosks and cash machines in York have been blocked because they would harm plans to give the historic city centre a facelift.

BT made two applications to City of York Council to install public payphones and cashpoints in the heart of the city – one in Exhibition Square and the other in Goodramgate – saying they would be convenient for residents and visitors.

But both schemes have been turned down after planning officers said the conversions of existing kiosks and the addition of ATMs would hamper the council’s aims to remove street clutter in the city centre and improve its appearance through its Reinvigorate York initiative.

In its applications, BT said there was “high demand” for cash machines in Exhibition Square and Goodramgate, and their introduction would support local traders as people would spend money they drew out in nearby shops and businesses.

The company said the new kiosks would be designed to ensure they “still look good for many years to come”, and their height and design would also be more easily accessible for all customers, including people with disabilities.

However, York Museums Trust objected to the Exhibition Square scheme, saying the existing phone box was used for “criminal activity” and as a meeting-point for “intimidating” groups, and called for its removal.

“The view from Exhibition Square towards Bootham Bar and York Minster is widely recognised as one of the finest in the city and the square is surrounded by beautiful Grade II-listed buildings,” the trust said in an objection letter.

“The existing phone box visually intrudes on views of St Mary’s Abbey wall and the proposed replacement would be more visually dominant and littered with advertising. It would be an incongruous and inappropriate development.”

A report by the council’s development management officer, Jonathan Kenyon, said officers felt the new kiosk would hamper plans for “significant public space improvements” in the square and investment in nearby buildings, and it would have “no public benefits”.

Mr Kenyon’s report on the Goodramgate proposals said they would be “out of character” with the street and there was no need for a cashpoint or more payphones there, also branding the current graffiti-strewn and regularly vandalised phone box “unkempt”.