York transport and planning policies stalling

 The decision of the York Councils planning committee to delay a decision, on a plan to replace the Castle Car park with a multi storey alternative at St Georges Field, throws into contrast the conflicting policies of the present Council.

The multi-story option emerged after nearly 2 years of public agonising. £2.2 million has already been spent on design work, consultants fees and consultation costs. The resulting plan didn’t suit everyone (including us) but it did present a way forward.

Multi storey car parks are usually ugly, there can be security issues, they concentrate vehicle movements onto limited sections of the road network and – in the case of the St Georges Field site –  park visitors to far away from their ultimate destinations whether that be shops, work or hospitality outlets.

The Council had submitted its planning application despite already acknowledging that changes to the Castle car might have to wait until the, Coronavirus prompted recession, has eased.

No great problem.

The Castle car park has been there for decades and it is the parking location of first choice for many shoppers and visitors. In July and August this summer it was rammed full.

Castle car park full to overflowing this summer

Now a Planning Committee has rejected the St Georges Field plan by 8 votes to 7. The key vote was cast by Cllr J Barker a hitherto low profile LibDem Councillor from Poppleton. The same meeting also deferred consideration of a new housing scheme on the former Castle Mills car park site.

That car park was lost to general use over a year ago and is still unavailable.

Like the odd decision last year, when Labour Councillors bounced the Council into pledging to stop through traffic from using Lendal Bridge, the impracticalities and contradictions in policy now threatened the economic recovery of the City.

The Council has said it will spend £40,000 consulting on the future of car parking in the City centre. If it appoints consultants to undertake the exercise then they will come under pressure from sectional interest groups including the “folksy fringe” who really don’t want any city centre car parking provision at all.

Personal transport remains the preferred mode for getting around for many people. Post COVID, cycling levels have fallen and public transport use has collapsed.

Meanwhile the number of City centre shops going into administration is creeping upwards.

The beginning of the new year – traditionally a poor time of year for traders – may see even more businesses facing ruin.

Some consistency from the York Council is required to avoid an economic collapse

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