More delays at Lowfields

The Yorkshire Water’s work on Tudor Road, which is intended to provide services to the Lowfields development, continues to make slow progress.

Tudor Road site entrance has been blocked for 2 months

Tudor Road and the public footpath were blocked for a couple of weeks from 15th June. Work on the main carriageway continued until early July. It was expected that delivery lorries to the Lowfields development site – which had been using Dijon Avenue – would then return to using the authorised Tudor Road entrance.

The Dijon Avenue site entrance is being heavily used

That hasn’t proved to be the case with lorries still trundling down Dijon Avenue each day. It seems the 2 month duration will pass before there is any relief.

Little Tudor Road communal housing site is now covered by a spoil heap

Meanwhile the section of the site reserved for the Yorspace communal housing scheme has been taken over by Wates builders. They have established a spoil heap there and are also storing other materials on the site. Apparently the cooperative still haven’t actually completed the purchase of the land and it remains unclear whether the promised homes will ever actually get built.

Communal housing site – foreground – remains derelict

Coronavirus York updates; 4th August 2020

Deaths and test results

An additional death was recorded in a York Care home on 28th July. It was the first Coronavirus care home fatality since the 14th July and brings the cumulative total to 78. The figures are supplied retrospectively by the Care Quality Commission to the Office of National Statistics (ONS)

The cumulative number of Coronavirus deaths registered in the City now stands at 169. The figures provided by ONS cover the period up to 24th July

There have been no more local hospital fatalities notified today

There have been no additional positive test results

Controversial change to parking arrangements in York

Small car ResPark discount to be scrapped.

Smart EQ fortwo length x width x height

The Council is set to abolish the short car parking discount introduced almost 20 yeas ago. The discount was introduced in order to encourage residents to use smaller cars.

In turn, this freed up more kerb space for other drivers in areas where space is usually at a premium.

Ford Tourneo Custom L2 measures in mm

If the change is agree, users of cars like the Smart (2.7 mtrs long) will pay the same charge as could be levied on Bentley (5.5 mtrs) or mini bus drivers.

There will be a low emission discount although the Council continues to ignore the problems faced by electric vehicle owners who have limited charging options.

As is now usual with the current Council, there has been no consultation on the proposed changes.

There are some less controversial plans which form part of the “Parking Services digital improvements”. These include the introduction of virtual permits and car park cashless payment systems.

Proposals are to be brought to the Executive Member for Transport Decision Session on Tuesday 11 August.

Other changes proposed include:

  • Virtual permits which can be managed by resident via an online portal, with alternative options for customers without internet access;
  • Cashless trial at Marygate car park alongside introduction of the new pay on exit system;
  • Extension of operating hours at Piccadilly car park (until 8pm)in line with the longer opening hours of the footstreets;
  • Renaming of Piccadilly car park to Coppergate Centre car park to provide a better and unique identity to this key Council asset;
  • Update to Traffic Regulation Order for some permits to better represent customer requirements, such as introducing parking permits solutions for guest houses, AirBnBs and other holiday lets;
  • Update Parking discount criteria to make this consistent with other Council Services;
  • Residents paying for parking permits at the council’s Customer Centre will no longer be able to use cash to support the prevention of COVID-19 contamination. The same will apply for Penalty Charge Notices once a solution has been put in place

Proposed changes, if accepted, will go live at the end of the year

Cycle path maintenance still poor

The York Civic Trust was reported in the media today as backing a “go slow” by cyclists in the City centre. They were apparently highlighting the need to remove cars from roads to allow for safer cycling.

Any such plans need to be subject to detailed consultation. The Civic Trust could make a start by re-engaging with its own members.

We have already seen on half baked scheme – on Bishopthorpe Road – impact adversely on both shoppers and traders. Nearby roads became clogged at peak times increasing pollution levels.

A similar situation arose at Marygate car park where 40 spaces are currently coned off to provide a (largely unused) route for cyclists. Many cyclists choose to use the internal service road. Meanwhile pressure on parking spaces means shoppers are discouraged and prosperity in the City centre is put under more pressure.

The City does’t benefit from impulsive, uninformed, decision making.

If cyclists – with or without the support of the Civic Trust which really should have other concerns – choose to “go slow” then they will only be replicating life of many riders who try to use existing, suburban, off road cycle paths.

Moor Lane shared cycle/footpath obstructed by overgrown hedge

Too many of these are obstructed by hedges and weeds. Surfaces are damaged, signage faded and lines obscured by age. There are no regular maintenance inspections. Even local Councillors seem unaware of the problems or are indifferent to them.

If the Council has funding available then that is where they should make the first investments.

Scepticism over York Council house prices at Lowfields

Average house prices in Dijon Avenue – next to the new “Lowfields Green development – are around £191,000. A 3 bedroomed semi is estimated to be worth between £188,000 and £208,000 according to the Zoopla web site. Prices are similar in nearby Lowfields Drive.

The announcement that the new “Clover” three bed, 94 sq. mtr, semi would cost £295,000 raised many eyebrows. With average salaries of £26,000 a year in York, that means a working couple would be able to borrow a maximum of £234,000 with repayments set at £1109 per month. They would also need a deposit of £60,000.

So we can safely say that the houses aren’t aimed at first time buyers.

Shape homes are offering a “shared ownership” option on some smaller properties. Two 2-bedroomed semi-detached houses (The Burdock) are for sale for between 25%-75% of the whole sale price of £225,000 (for example, a 30% share would cost £67,500). The Council have already completed deals elsewhere in the City for about 30 shared ownership homes. In most of those cases the prospective occupant identified a propriety that was available on the open market and asked the Council to buy half. The occupiers then pay part mortgage and part rent.

Finally seven “social rent” properties will be available.  Two are 2-bedroomed semi-detached houses and there are five 2-bedroomed semi-detached bungalows. Rent levels for the properties have not been revealed, although they will be much less than the £800 pm commercial rents being asked for similar properties in the area. Applicants will need to be on the housing waiting list although it is possible that preference will be given to Council tenants seeking to downsize from larger properties (freeing them, in turn, for family occupation).

Old Bowling Green semi

By way of comparison, a new 3 bed semi on the prestigious Old Bowling Green site on Front Street is listed for sale at £310,000  It has 90 sq. metres of floorspace and is arguably better located than the houses at “Lowfields Green”. Building work on the site will also conclude shortly.

Quite how the £295,000 price for the Lowfields semi has been arrived at was not made clear in the business case figures published by the Council.

It can only serve to stoke house price inflation at a time when many are feeling the pressures arising from the health crisis.

Some cross subsidy of the rented units was expected across the whole site.But that doesn’t explain the £50,000 premium apparently now being sought.

The Council may also point to high standards of thermal efficiency, but it would take over 100 years to repay the extra “up-front” costs through energy bill savings.

Latest planning applications for the Westfield Ward

Below are the latest planning applications received by the York Council for the Westfield ward.

Full details can be found by clicking the application reference

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Windsor House 22 Ascot Way York

Non-material amendment to permitted application 18/01467/GRG3 to alter landscaping

Ref. No: 20/01320/NONMAT 

NB This application relates mainly to the detailed design of a playground. The playground is designed for use by those staying at the disabled centre. It is not a replacement for the games area (MUGA) which was publicly accessible and aimed at older children. A statement from the Council on the MUGA replacement – which it was hoped would be provided on the Thanet Road Sports area – is still awaited.

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22 Otterwood Lane York YO24 3JR

Two storey side extension following demolition of existing single storey side extension and pitched roof over existing flat roof front porch

Ref. No: 20/01285/FUL 

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228 Hamilton Drive West York YO24 4PJ

First floor side extension

Ref. No: 20/01275/FUL 

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Yan’s Express Cantonese Takeaway 11 Acomb Court Front Street York YO24 3BJ

Certificate of lawfulness for the existing use of premises as a hot food takeaway (use class A5)

Ref. No: 20/01186/CLU 

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Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning online web site.  http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

NB. The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received

Busier in York today

A lot more visitors to York City centre today. Most of the car parks used by shoppers were full.

Never been a more important time for the Council to get its car park space availability advance signs working again. Same for variable message signs.
Nunnery Lane car park full
Half a dozen unoccupied disabled spaces at Nunnery Lane
Reason why some people don’t cycle into York? Bike -or most of it – may have gone by the time you return
Castle car park – York’s most popular with shoppers – full today. This is the car park that some Councillors wish to close.
Peel Street car park full. This is the privately owned car park which is offering free parking in conjunction with some City centre traders. Seems to be very successful
College Street attractions proving to be popular. Possible scope for something similar in the Duncombe Place/Deans Park area?
More people in Parliament Street but the space is still underused.
Improving footfall on Fossgate with a coupe of restaurants serving from outside tables.
Goodramgate foot street also well used today
People even queuing to get into Spark! Council may be hoping for a rent payment?
Monk Bar general spaces 95% occupied. Unfortunately, once again, only four of the 40 spaces reserved for blue badge holders were in use. Needs an early policy review.
Most embarrassing gaff by the Council is the – largely unused – cycling lane in the Marygate car park. The rest of the car park was full today. The car park is popular with shoppers and uses the “pay on exit” system. The parking spaces could be reinstated and cyclists could choose to use the service road if they wish.
The Esplanade short stay car park was at 80% of its capacity today.
Lots of space at the railway station car park. Suspect that LNER may have missed an opportunity here.?

New homes at Lowfields on sale from Monday

The Council will start the sale of homes at Lowfields on Monday.

They say that the first phase is of “30 high quality, low energy, spacious homes” which will be ready for their new residents to move in “early in 2021”. 

Of this phase, 18 are available for outright sale at market rates and six of the homes are for sale through a shared ownership scheme.

Seven homes will be allocated for social rent.

More details on the Save Lowfields Playing Field Facebook page. (click)

First homes released for sale at Lowfield Green: The Burdock 2-bed semi