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Council set to abandon Oakhaven replacement plans.

Oakhaven

The former elderly persons home at Oakhaven has remained empty since elderly residents were moved out in 2016.

The building was briefly used as a homeless hostel and then for Police firearms training  

A report in October 2015 had set out the Council’s preferred strategy.

We said at that time “given the Councils shambolic record on project management, we doubt if we see any improvements much before the end of the decade”.

It turns out that we are being optimistic.

Delay followed delay

 As recently as 21st November 2018 the Council was maintaining that it would work with a private sector operator (Ashley House)  to build an “extra care” scheme. 

Now a report published today says the plans have been abandoned.

 “due to planning restrictions and financial viability this project has not progressed.

A number of alternative options for the site are being modelled for financial viability and officers expect to present a report to the executive making recommendations for the site early in 2020”.

Tens of thousands of pounds has been spent on maintaining and keeping the empty build secure. With increasing demands for older persons accommodation delays in excess of 5 years, in implementing projects, are simply not acceptable.

Some of the elderly tenants moved out of Oakhaven could have lived out their lives in a home that many cherished.

They deserve a better epitaph

Oakhaven delays – Council admits it will be Autumn 2020 before new home is completed.

Oakhaven

We reported last week that plans to provide a new elderly persons home on the Oakhaven site in Acomb (Holgate) had run into severe difficulties.

Now a Council report has revealed that the replacement facility will not open until the autumn of 2020.

That would be nearly three years after the original target date. The report offers no explanation for the delay.

Other schemes like the upgrade to Lincoln court have overtaken the Oakhaven project.

Elderly residents were decanted out of the building in 2016.

So far no planning application for the Oakhaven site has been submitted. One is not now expected until the summer.

In 2015 we said that the Council’s poor project management record could result in delays to the project.

However, no one forecast that they would be this bad.

Oakhaven replacement plans on display this week

Last year, care company Ashley House won a contract from the City of York Council to design, build and operate an “extra care” sheltered housing complex at the site of the old Oakhaven care home on Acomb Road.

Oakhaven site

No planning application for the project – which is running over a year behind schedule – has yet been submitted but according to the Councils web site initial plans are being unveiled this week.

Drawings will be on display at Acomb Explore Library on Front Street from Thursday March 1 to Thursday, March 8.

A public event is also being on Thursday, March 1 from 4pm to 7pm at York Medical Group, 199 Acomb Road, York.

The site has been hit by controversy in recent years with the adjacent police station being threatened with closure. It was initially thought that that site would also be incorporated into the new development.

In addition, the nearby Carlton Tavern pub narrowly avoided an attempt to replace it with a new care home. That controversy is still ongoing.

The expectation for residents will be that a holistic plan for the whole neighbourhood will emerge quickly.

Oakhaven was closed by City of York Council in late 2015, as part of its plan to close authority-run homes which it says are out-of-date, and not up to modern standards.

The new “state-of-the-art” development will provide 56 apartments for older people, and will include a lounge and dining room serving hot meals.

People can also view the proposals or comment online by clicking here or via email  to OakhavenDevelopment@york.gov.uk.

The consultation is only open until 8th March

Delays in building Oakhaven care home replacement.

The Council are saying that the opening of the replacement for the Oakhaven care home on York Road will be delayed until the end of 2019 “at the earliest”.

The existing home was closed in 2015 and most recently was used as a homeless hostel.

Bed availability trends

A Council report reveals that there will still be a shortfall in residential care places for the elderly of 654 by 2020. This is slightly down on the inherited shortfall of 701.

“Extra Care” facilities – like those planned for Oakhaven – should reduce the excess of demand over supply from 330 to 9 by 2020.

The number of care beds available has remained fairly level over recent years while the number of delayed discharges from hospital (so called “bed blocking”) remains high as the winter approaches.

The report blames the Councils “partner” for the delays at Oakhaven.

“The delivery of this scheme is running later than originally planned as this procurement was launched later than anticipated due to lengthier examination of the procurement and legal options associated with the plan.

Further delays have occurred as Ashley House develop their design.

At present, we would expect completion of the building, subject to grant of planning permission, in Q3 2019 at the earliest”.

On the Lowfields Plans the report says,

“Plans for the development of a care home, health hub, homes (including bungalows and apartments for the over 55s) and public open space at Lowfield Green, in their final draft form, were the subject of further public engagement in July.

Engagement has shown support for the proposed development.

Lowfields school site is overgrown

However, there is strong objection to the development from the Save Lowfields Playing Field Action Group.

We will be ready to submit the planning application for this proposed development in September 2017.

Later in the autumn Executive will be asked to decide if we are to build the new homes ourselves or sell the land so that another developer can do so”.

NB. Opposition to the development at Lowfields centres around the houses planned for the playing field. The elderly persons accommodation proposals enjoy broad support as they are to be built on the “footprint” of the old school buildings.

Oakhaven redevelopment – contractor announced

The Council has announced that Ashley House PLC will develop and operate an Extra Care elderly persons facility which will be built on the Oakhaven site on Acomb Road.

Ashley House generally get good inspection reports for their homes.

The deal – agreed at a behind closed doors decision session – also secures for the Council nomination rights to affordable and discount sale apartments for the next  80 years.

There will be 48 one bedroomed and 8 two bedroomed homes provided on the site

Of these

Oakhaven

  • 20 will be for affordable rent,
  • 5 shared ownership,
  • 15 at market rent and
  • 16 outright sale.

The development will include a lounge, cafe/restaurant, buggy store and staff rooms plus 16 car park spaces.

The one bedroomed properties will be rented for £241 a week and the 2 bedroomed properties for £266. The target sale price for the properties is between £165000 and £195,000.

The developer will pay the Council £150,000 for the land.

If the adjacent Police station becomes available, the developer say he will provide an additional 14 apartments on that part of the site.

Further details can be found by clicking here

Carlton Tavern

Coincidentally, the owners of the nearby Carlton Tavern public house have today announced its closure. They are understood to have sold the site to “Crown Care” who will develop a similar care facility.

The Oakhaven proposals are tied up with controversial plans to develop the Lowfields school site.

At Lowfields, government officials have said that they may not be able to intervene to stop the sale and development of the playing fields “if they have not been used for over 10 years”.

York Council officials claim that Lowfields/High School pupils last used the  sports field in September 1997. In reality it was much later than that.

Meanwhile there is considerable confusion about whether the North Yorkshire police can afford to move their Acomb Police Station onto the Lowfields site, while the NHS has confirmed that no funding has been made available for the promised health centre which was also to have been built there.

A communal housing group has meanwhile announced two “public meetings” to discuss their plans for a small section of the Lowfields Site. Yorspace was allocated a site near little Tudor Road by the Councils Executive although the financial terms of any deal are not yet known. Their allocated site is not on the school playing field as such, although they apparently lobbied for the whole of the school campus to be developed (bringing them into potential conflict with the “Save Lowfields Playing Field” action group which was formed in the autumn) .

The meetings are being held on:

  • 11 March – Foxwood Community Centre, Cranfield Pl, York YO24 3HY, 3pm 
  • 15 March – Chill Cafe, 8a Front St, Acomb, York YO24 3BJ, 7pm

 

 

Oakhaven on York Road to become homeless hostel

Oakhaven

Oakhaven

The York Council has finally an admitted that the former Oakhaven elderly persons’ home will be turned into homeless person’s accommodation.

No external alterations are proposed to the building and internal changes are minimal. Currently the property has 27 bedrooms. The proposal is to change it to 10 one bed flats and 5 two bed flats.

Oakhaven has been empty – apart from some police training use – since it was closed last year.

The Council had talked euphemistically about the buildings being used to “house local families”. It turns out that the flats will replace the Ordnance Lane facility which is being demolished. Those units cater for homeless families and some individuals.  Occasionally they have housed teenagers on remand.

There are already two buildings being used to house homeless people in this part of the City (Holgate Road and Howe Hill)

Inevitably there are problems with any transient use. Noise and chaotic lifestyles do not always sit well with quieter neighbourhoods  or – in the case of the Front Street area – a recovering shopping precinct.

Most homeless families, of course, simply want to be moved a permanent home as quickly as possible. That should be the Council’s main target.

The Council’s planning committee is being recommended to approve the use of the building as a homeless hostel  for up to 18 months.

The Council has said that in 2018 it will build an extra care elderly people’s facility on the site.

The same Council department recently reneged on its promise to redevelop only 50% of the Lowfields school site

Firearms training taking place in Oakhaven former elderly persons home

Council “forgets” to mention Lowfields school site in new social care report

All residents have now been moved out of the Oakhaven elderly people’s home in York Road.  The Council says that there will be a “delay” before work starts on building a specialist Extra Care facility on the site.

A report to a meeting next week says

Bunholme "hub" layout. click to enlarge

Bunholme “hub” layout. click to enlarge

“we have closed down Oakhaven: shutting off water and gas so that all is safe (but leaving on the electricity so that the fire and security systems continue to operate) and moving out equipment for reuse elsewhere, if in reasonable condition, or for disposal.

The building will then stand empty while we procure a partner to redevelop it as an Extra Care facility. While it is empty we have offered its use as a temporary kitchen while Poppleton Road school kitchens are refurbished and for fire arms and dog training by North Yorkshire Police [no live ammunition]”.

Residents may be sceptical about just how long the site will remain derelict. The Oliver House saga dragged on for three years (and counting) while the former Lowfields school site – ideal as a location for accommodation for elderly residents because it is close to amenities – hasn’t even been put on the market yet.

Another elderly person’s home (Grove House) is being sold off.

The Council seems to be concentrating all its resource son the east of the City with the Burnholme school site set to be turned into a well-being hub. (see above right)

The Council is now consulting on the closure of Morrell House (Burton Stone Lane), Willow House (Long Close Lane), Windsor House (Ascot Way) and Woolnough House (Woolnough Ave)

York Road Oakhaven older persons home plans announced

Will be replaced with an “extra care” facility.

Oakhaven site plan - clckc to enlarge

Oakhaven site plan – click to enlarge

Following a public consultation exercise, the Council is being recommended to go ahead with the conversion of the Oakhaven care home site on York Road into an “extra care” facility.

The City is gearing up to meet an expected 50% increase in the number of residents who will be aged over 75 by 2030.

This forms part of the Council’s plan to provide, by the end of 2018, 525 new units of accommodation of which 343 will serve those with high care needs including dementia.  “225 out of date care beds will be replaced”.

Another home – Grove House on Penleys Grove Street – will also be closed. That site will be sold in order to finance the improvements at other facilities for the elderly.

A report, being considered on Thursday, acknowledges that most “extra care” facilities are located on the east of the Ouse. However it fails to recognise the demand for more accommodation for elderly people on the Lowfields school site.

Instead in a separate report the Council is being asked to develop such facilities at the Burnholme school site.

Report fails to recognise the demand to establish more accommodation for elderly people on the Lowfields school site

Report fails to recognise the need for more accommodation for elderly people on the Lowfields school site, which has been left empty and derelict by the Council for over 3 years.

On Lowfields the report says, “The use of the Lowfields site for specialist accommodation with care for older people has been the subject of previous procurement which concluded that such development was unaffordable. However, we continue to examine the use of this site to meet housing, health and care objectives”.

Which means officials have made no progress on marketing the site?

The Oakhaven replacement will provide only 50 of the 525 beds needed to satisfy demand in the City

 The papers reveal that the Council will not run the replacement facility at Oakhaven.

Instead it will seek a “partner” to fund, build and operate the extra care scheme. The Council is also relying on another private sector home being constructed at the Terry’s factory site (which received planning permission last week).

It will also sell off the Windsor House home in Ascot Way.

The consultation exercise concluded, “That 97% of questionnaire respondents agreed that bigger bedrooms, en-suite facilities, wider corridors and more social space should be key features of residential care homes. Bigger bedrooms give more social space for residents to entertain visitors, they can accommodate the resident’s own furniture and bigger rooms give staff more space in which to work and support residents, particularly where bed hoists need to be used”.

Work on the Oakhaven Extra care home is expected to start in early 2017 and may be available for occupation in May 2018.

Given the Council’s shambolic record on project management, we doubt if we will see any improvements much before the end of the decade.

Oakhaven old peoples home to be converted into extra care facility

Residents and staff at two of City of York Council’s Older People’s Homes – Grove House and Oakhaven – are being consulted on proposals to close the homes in early 2016, as part of plans to modernise accommodation for older people in the city.

There has still not been any announcement by the Council on the future of the Lowfields site.  Residents had expected to be given a redevelopment timetable over the summer.

Oakhaven

Oakhaven

The plans seek to address the needs of York’s ageing population, making the best use of York’s existing Sheltered Housing by making it more accessible for people with higher care needs, and replacing the council’s seven out-dated Older People’s Homes, with more modern accommodation. Two Older People’s Homes – Oliver House and Fordlands – closed in 2012 as part of the programme.

The council’s Executive agreed to consult on proposals to close two more Older People’s Homes as part of the next phase of the project at their meeting on 30 July. Each of the council’s seven remaining Older People’s Homes was assessed against a number of criteria, to determine which homes should be consulted on for closure first.
(more…)

That was the year that was – April – June 2019

It was to be a good Spring mainly due to the efforts of volunteers across the community.

Volunteers clear up litter as part of the national Keep Britain Tidy spring campaign
Acomb Wood

Volunteer efforts also helped to conserve key environmental sites like local woodland.

Vandalised fencing

Crime levels rose with anti social behaviour once again the biggest source of complaint in sub urban areas.

Scarborough footbridge

Work progressed on a £4 million cycle/pedestrian footbridge linking the railway station to Bootham. Its opening later in the year was to highlight the fact that the City still had a long way to go before it had a comprehensive, and safe, cycle route network.

Lendal Bridge

Another bridge over the Ouse attracted comment. Corrosion on Lendal Bridge served to emphasis the on going cost of maintaining the transport infrastructure in the City

Potholes on carriageways

By far the worst aspect of the transport system was the condition of roads and paths. Potholes became more pronounced in many streets. The maintenance budget was to be increased later in the year but by then frost had already taken its toll

Full recycling containers

There was little change in the recycling rate in York. There was no lack of enthusiasm from residents who regularly filled recycling banks to the point where some overflowed.

Goal posts on Westfield Park

Some simple tasks seemed to confuse the York Council. A request for the goals posts on a local park to be repainted has been outstanding now for 2 years.

Scarborough Bridge

Another area of poor performance earlier in the year was the removal of graffiti. Following sustained criticism from residents, the Council was to completely change its graffiti removal service later in the year. Early results have been encouraging although there have been no recent prosecutions for graffiti (criminal damage).

Balfour Street trees

A self seeded tree in Balfour Street had grown to the point where it was engulfing the adjacent railings and damaging the public footpath. This represented a safety hazard. It would be two years after the problem was first reported before the tree was felled. The felling provided space for two replacement trees to be planted.

Changes made to redevelopment plans for Bowling Green site
Acomb Bowling Club
Site compound

The Council granted planning permission for the (privately owned) Acomb Bowling Club to be demolished and replaced with housing. The owners were required to make a Section 106 contribution towards replacement facilities but this money found its way into a club located in the Holgate area.

Meanwhile, without any consultation with residents, Council officials agreed that land earmarked for a library extension could be used as a site compound and spoil heap. This caused considerable annoyance to some neighbours.

The Council published details of the number of Council homes that were affected by “standing water” . The number had changed little over the years.

On a happier note, the highly successful, Knights Rugby community team organised community events during the Easter holidays.

With the local elections on the horizon the Council revealed the number of issues that had been recorded by Councillors during the previous 4 years. Mostly those who raised the most issues were the Councillors who got re-elected in May.

Labour, LibDem and Green Council candidates. Some Tories weren’t on speaking terms.

There was big choice of candidates in the local elections.

The election manifestos were more significant for what they didn’t say rather than what was proposed. The slow progress on the Community Stadium was air brushed from history, as was the escalating costs of repairing the Guildhall.

In the end, the results showed major gains for the, now 21 strong, LibDem Group who subsequently formed a partnership with the Greens to run the Council.

The Tories fell to their second worst election result ever while Labour made only modest gains.

A few weeks later the LibDems topped the poll in the Euro elections in the City beating off a challenge from the BREXIT party. It was to be a different picture though later in the year when views polarised during an unexpected General Election campaign.

Euro election results June 2019
Castlegate

The Council was criticised for the large number of commercial properties which it owned and which had been left empty. These included former elderly persons homes like Oakhaven & Willow House together with offices like those on Castlegate. The properties were costing taxpayers several hundreds of thousands of pounds each year in lost rent income and maintenance costs.

Camera Van

The Police and Crime Commissioner was criticised for an over reliance on income from speed camera vans. The 6 vans concentrated on trunk roads apparently because that was where the greatest number of offenders could be caught and fined. Critics said that accident and average speed trends on monitored roads should be published. This would allow the the success of the initiative to be judged

Woodthorpe Post Office Closure

It wasn’t just the central Post Office that was under threat. The Woodthorpe sub Post Office closed suddenly.

Minster precinct

A new neighbourhood plan covering the area around the Minster was published. It generally received a positive response.

Hollyrood Drive
Front Street
A59 entrance to the City

By late May it had become clear that something was seriously amiss with street public service standards. Hedges and trees were obstructing paths. Weeds scared key entrances to the City. It would later become clear that the weed killing programme had simply not taken place on many roads. There would be some improvements towards the end of the year but several issues were never fully resolved.

Work started on demolishing Windsor House
York staged its first County Cricket match for over 100 years
…..and the Community Stadium pitch started to grow.

It became clear that the new York Community Stadium would not be completed by the final, final deadline on June. A later Autumn opening date was also to pass with key Rugby matches having to be rescheduled to the Bootham Crescent ground.

Council report.

There were also ongoing concerns about the viability of some of the facilities to be provided as part of the stadium deal. It seemed that the Council were now underwriting more of the risk on the commercial side of the development

Meanwhile, the cost of providing new football pitches for a Bishopthorpe based football team was revealed to be nearly £1.5 million

The cost included a high specification clubhouse.

Most of the funding was to come from taxpayers.

What annoyed some residents were claims by officials that the facility was a replacement for the playing fields being built on at Lowfields. It was pointed out that the new site (near the York College) was some 3 miles from Lowfields and lacked a direct public transport link.