Vision for city ends ‘20 years of failed plans’

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A £22m “masterplan” to develop part of the centre of York would “end 20 years of failed proposals”, senior councillors promised yesterday.

The new Castle Gateway proposal will see Piccadilly, considered one of the most unattractive parts of the city, transformed into a “pedestrian-friendly” street with apartments and “hubs” for independent traders and small businesses, and the car park around the Norman Clifford’s Tower swept away and replaced with replaced with a public space.

A new multi-storey car park will be built at St George’s Field, on the other side of the River Foss, and new riverside walkways and V-shaped foot and cycle bridges added, the council said.

Work on the scheme is expected to start as early as next Spring, following the unveiling of the plan by the council’s Conservative leader and Liberal Democrat deputy.

Its announcement comes five years after a developer abandoned plans for a £300m development of Piccadilly, which it said had been rendered unviable by the Monks Cross retail park on the outskirts of York.

Yesterday, the council’s leader, Ian Gillies, said: “We are committing to end the 20 years of failed proposals for this part of the city. This is the first time we’ve had a masterplan which has listened to residents and demonstrated an understanding of their wishes and of the area’s heritage and its significance.”

He said Clifford’s Tower, at the heart of the scheme, would “for the first time in decades, have the car-free setting it deserves”.

His deputy, Coun Andrew Waller, said the plan would preserve “our most loved heritage side-by-side with some of the city centre’s most awkward and under-used spaces”.

He said: “It’s about understanding what people would like and still living within our means.

“There is a desire for new public spaces and for opening up the area to pedestrians and cyclists, but we have also kept in mind the commercial development opportunities that pay for all of that ambition.”

Andy Kerr, the council’s commercial projects manager, said: “Previous projects were more commercially driven. This one will create a large, new public space right in the heart of the city and allow us to move the car park to a more suitable location.”