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York aims to dispel 'museum' image

THE ARCHITECTURAL heritage of York is to be protected by keeping buildings in use, under a conservation and development plan outlined by the historic city's council yesterday.

The new policy, revealed in a draft document, will encourage owners and occupiers to maintain buildings of architectural or historical interest by giving technical advice and assistance on sources of funding and by working towards good design for alterations.

The plan covers listed buildings - of which York has some 1,600 - conservation areas, new buildings, shopfronts, advertisements, extensions, satellite dishes and archaeology. If adopted, it may well be used by other cities. It could also lead to stricter planning regulations.

Demolitions will be resisted and in conservation areas all new buildings must be designed with regard to the local scale and style. New developments must be 'capable of maturing attractively,' the report says.

Shopfronts and advertisements will have to be in sympathy with the locality. Security shutters and grilles, which the report says create a 'dead' appearance outside opening hours, will not normally be acceptable.

York has been attracting developers on a grand scale since the mid-Eighties and the planners hope to appease both conservationists and developers. They want to dispel the myth that conservation is negative.

'This city is not a museum and successful conservation relies on change as well as preservation. We do need to be imaginative and flexible to facilitate the future well being and prosperity of the city,' said Bob Fletcher, chairman of York City Council's planning committee.