….Jan to March in west York in pictures
2019 commenced with controversy in the air. The children’s games area (known as a MUGA) on Kingsway West faced closure as part of a plan to enlarge Lincoln Court. Objectors – which included Sport England – were calmed by Council assurances that a replacement would be provided elsewhere in the ward. 12 months later and there is still no sign of a facility for children.
Volunteers were active in the area during the whole for the year. Monthly “whats’on” posters were produced and displayed on local noticeboards and social media.
Less good news in Lowfields, where the Council pressed on with the development on the football pitch. Once again alternative local facilities did not materialise. A plan from “Yorspace” to provide “communal ownership” style homes was also criticised by some local residents.
The plans for an extension to Lincoln Court, and the construction of a centre for disabled children on an adjacent site on Ascot Way, ran into more problems. The cost of the plans was found to be much higher than originally estimated. Design changes were made only weeks after the original had been given planning permission.
Some good news in February with the brief return of a skip service to Chapelfields. Unfortunately the service now appears only rarely with an increase in fly tipping one of the consequences
Trees were a popular topic of conversation during most of the year. There was broad agreement that more were needed to combat climate change. However, maintenance arrangements for existing trees – particularly those adjacent to footpaths – were hopelessly inadequate with many needing “crown lifting” to prevent accidents.
Elsewhere in the City car parking signage attracted comment. As long ago as 2003, real time information signs on approach roads to the City centre provided “real time” advanced information about parking space availability at different car parks around the City. The information was also available on the web. This mysteriously disappeared in 2012 since when congestion levels have increased as motorists drive round trying to find a space. In February, the Council appointed contractors with a remit to reintroduce the space availability service.
The Council announced that the existing Libraries management company would constinue in their role. The Council announced a £2 million boost for Acomb Library which would be expanded and fully modernised over the following 3 years. Unfortunately building works on the adjacent bowling club site would later compromise redevelopment options.
The landfill waste disposal site at Harewood Whin closed. York’s non recyclable rubbish is now incinerated at Allerton Park.
As work commenced at Lowfields on the road layout, one piece of good news was that the area was also being cleared of an invasive Knotweed infestation
The Council decided to proceed with its hugely expensive plan to provide a business club at the Guildhall. Several residents hoped that the upcoming Council elections might provide an opportunity for more reflection about the project.
Work had also started on a project to build 5 bungalows on a Council garage site on Newbury Avenue. With parking space already at a premium in the area, the main concern was the impact that vehicles, displaced from the garages, might have on parking availability.
The Post Office announced that it was closing its Lendal branch. A replacement would be provided in part of the nearby Smith’s store on Coney Street.
Later in the year it was revealed that the old Lendal PO building was likely to become a steakhouse.
There seemed to be never ending controversy over the “Spark” container village development in Piccadilly. The Council has granted the owners a 3 year lease on land formerly occupied by a tram depot. Spark failed to implement some of the planning conditions and a share of the developments profits – promised to the Council – did not materialise.
The Council was belatedly starting to get to grips with providing some sub-urban parking lay-bys. However, several of the projects were over 3 years behind schedule. Most came in a rush in March.
Fly tipping, dumping and litter were increasing problems in West York
The Coop launched an imaginative scheme where shoppers could nominate a local voluntary body to receive a grant based on what that had spent in a local store. The Foxwood Residents Association raised around £2000 from the scheme
The Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust also became more active in the Foxwood area. They tidied up the Teal Drive playground and would later in the year start a “drop in” open session at the local community centre. Sadly the slide disappeared from the playground and has not yet been restored.
The winter brought the usual problems with vehicle damage to grass verges. Part of the problem was the glacial progress being made in “eco grid” (matrix) surfacing of the verges to protect them .
The Council announced that it had produced a final, final draft Local Plan. The plan would define the size of the City for the next 25 years. Recent national population growth forecasts had been substantially refined downwards despite which some landowners and developers are currently trying to persuade an Inspector that the City should grow by more than 20%!
Following a relatively mild winter, Spring arrived in March and with it the daffodils that residents had been planting over the years.
and also other issues!
The Council was cautioned by the Ombudsman for taking several years to determine Public Right of Way (PROW) applications in the City. In west York an application for a PROW had been lodged with the council for the link across Acomb Moor which connects Foxwood Lane and Osprey Close. The York Council say it will determine the application in February 2020.
In Woodthorpe/Acomb Park a very controversial planning application was made which would have seen the area between Moor Lane and the Askham Bogs nature reserve developed. Although rejected by the local Planning Committee, the application was subject to an appeal the results of which are expected in the new year.
Flooding was never far from the news.
As well as Environment Agency works aimed at preventing flooding from rivers and water courses, the Council looked at the separate issue of surface water flooding. This relates the adequacy of drainage pipes in the urban area.
The efforts of the residents association had resulted in paths being strimmed in several areas. The areas concerned looked much improved.
The flashing speed warning sign on Wetherby Road had been removed. The sign had cautioned drivers entering the City at more than the 30 mph limit.
Councillors blamed each other for the disappearance of the sign
Empty Council garages were a source of irritation to some residents. They mean a loss of income (there are waiting lists for all garages) but also increase “on street” parking problems. One garage in Chapefields had been empty of over a year apparently waiting for a new door.
The Council published further options for the redevelopment of the Castle Piccadilly site. They would later seek planning permission for a replacement car park for Castle. It would be a multi storey building in St Georges Field.
A major revamp of the area around the railway station entrance was announced. The Queen Street bridge would be demolished.
More electric buses would be coming to York. Coincidentally an encouraging report (for bus operators) on public satisfaction with local services was published.