Monks Cross expansion approved by York councillors

Proposals for an expanded park will see a new John Lewis and Marks and Spencer alongside retail giants WHSmith, Topshop and others. ©, Keith Laverack; Image credit: Keith Laverack

A controversial expansion to the Monk Cross retail park in York has been approved by local councillors.

The new development will see the creation of extra retail units, two of which are confirmed as a large Marks and Spencer store covering 120,000 sq ft and the introduction of John Lewis to the York area, with a proposed floor space of 100,000 sq ft.

These will be the flagship stores for the revamped retail park, and will anchor further restaurant spaces and most notably a brand new community sports stadium.

It is hoped that the businesses will be open by 2016 at the latest, injecting a forecasted £16 million per annum into the city’s economy through what will be one of the city's biggest ever developments.

Committee members voted 11-4 in favour of the plans after a day of debate, despite various large campaigns against the Monks Cross development.

But officials had suggested that the application would be rejected if it had not been for the stadium element, which is seen as key in establishing York’s flourishing sports community, especially should York City beat Luton FC this Sunday at Wembley to regain Football League status.

The 6,000 seat arena is to be shared between York City and York City Knights Rugby club, who both backed the expansion scheme.

Major concerns about the expansion were raised by retailers and businesses investors that the city centre trade would suffer dramatically should the proposals get the green light.

LaSalle UK, the business behind a new shopping centre inside York city itself, suggested it would scrap its own development plans if the Monks Cross expansion was supported and said its £200 million investment at Castle Piccadilly would not be viable.

The Castle Piccadilly scheme would deliver a 400,000 sq ft (37,161 sq m) shopping centre in the city centre adjacent to the Coppergate Centre and the Castle Museum.

York City Council this week published an independent report on the new scheme conducted by Drivers Jonas Deloitte (DJD). Findings suggested that there were sufficient grounds for the new plans to be scrapped as the retail park would have “significantly adverse” effects on York’s town centre.

However, Councillor Sandy Fraser dismissed a great deal of the criticism, explaining: "The only way we can deliver a new stadium, a community stadium, for York people is to actually have this development. Monks Cross and the city centre should compliment each other."

Monks Cross manager Katherine Sharp says that she believes reports suggesting the change to York city centre should only promote a set of agreed “further controls” but not impinge the development altogether.

It is proposed that expansion will create over 300 permanent jobs and almost 1,000 positions overall when including contracted builders.

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