City set to push ahead with plans for culture open space

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PLANS to create a new public space for cultural pursuits in the heart of York in a bid to discourage the binge-drinking blighting the city centre will be discussed next month.

Councillors are set to back plans to revamp Exhibition Square, starting with work on a reduced bus pull-in area which will give the square more prominence. Cabinet members will discuss the plans on July 1 with the aim of work starting as early as August.

It is hoped the move will extend arts and theatre activities, as York Council attempts to tackle the notorious drinking culture in the city centre.

More than 600 people have responded to consultations, with half backing the aim of giving more space for pedestrians, with 42 per cent disagreeing. Some have raised fears about the impact on timetables and services.

The cabinet member for transport, Coun David Levene, said: “Exhibition Square is a crucial location for a number of well-used bus services, but the environment at the Theatre Interchange is currently poor both for bus passengers and other pedestrians using the area.

“Through ringfenced bus-improvement funds as part of the Better Bus Area programme, as well as Reinvigorate York investment in the city centre, the council will make Exhibition Square a better place for residents, visitors, and commuters to use and enjoy.”

Improvements due to begin in August include replacing the two existing bus shelters with two “more attractive” shelters and providing real time information screens and more/better seats for bus passengers.

Plans for the Exhibition Square redevelopment will be taken to the council’s cabinet in September and works will follow on from the Theatre Interchange project.