If anyone had suggested over a pint in a public bar that a dozen used sea containers should be allowed to park on a sensitive City centre site in York, for three years, they would have been laughed at.
But in essence the Council’s Executive committee will consider doing just that on the vacant Reynard’s garage site when they meet next week.
A proposal from a group called “Spark” would see affordable space created for “local start-up businesses, social enterprises, community groups and charities for over 20 businesses in 14 fully fitted out shipping containers. The completed scheme would offer street food kiosks, retail, shared workspaces, meeting room, a performance area and public workspace. Although constructed from shipping containers they can be clad and finished in a variety of finishes to fit the locality and create a high quality aesthetic finish”.
A Council official writes that the plan would ” improve the quality of the area and by driving footfall, contribute to uplift in land values”
The use of low quality temporary buildings with transient users has, of course, had just the reverse effect on land values elsewhere.
It is an extension of the post war bomb site “used car dealer” syndrome.
The containers are expected to be available to rent for £300 a week. Many are expected to be street food outlets and will compete with the mobile vans and stalls which already existed in the Shambles market area.
The Council is expected to spend £40,000 connecting utility services to the site. It says it expects to recover this from rent income although how much “Sparks” would actually pay is unclear.
And critically the location is within sight of some of the most important historical buildings in the City. These include the Merchant Adventurers Hall and the Castle complex.
The Council has had plenty of time to come up with with a constructive, low risk, option for the use of this site.
In the run up to Christmas it should be used to supplement the overcrowded Castle car park.
After that there are many unobtrusive leisure and commercial uses that could be considered if the Council really can’t get its “Southern Gateway” major redevelopment project into gear.
We have said for some time that the Council has over-extended itself. It has too many major projects on the go at the same time.
Quality is suffering and short term expedients become straws to be grabbed at.