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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165 Askham Lane York YO24 3JA

Fell Horse Chestnut tree protected by Tree Preservation Order no. 60.

Ref. No: 18/01773/TPO 

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40 Grange Lane York YO26 5DR

Single storey rear extension after demolition of conservatory.

Ref. No: 18/01510/FUL 

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

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

Anyone for Footy?

It looks like Foxwood is getting a revived football team.

A team – based at the Beagle pub on Foxwood Lane – will play their fixtures on Chesney’s Field this season. They will play in division 2 of the York league

We understand that they are always on the lookout for new players.

The Westfield Ward Committee have allocated £500 to help the team get off the ground.

The first fixture, against Rufforth, is taking place on Saturday 1st September starting at 2:00pm.

More at https://www.facebook.com/thebeaglefc/

Acomb War Memorial challenge

The York Civic Trust have confirmed that the restoration work that they plan to do on the Acomb War Memorial will be restricted to repairing and cleaning the stonework. Some of the lettering on the monument will also be repainted. The work is partly being sponsored by the Trust with a contribution from the City of York Council. The work is being managed by volunteers.

The scope of the refurbishment falls short of level of work which residents had hoped could be achieved before the Centenary of the end of WW1 which takes place on 11th November.

The original specification for the upgrade had included items like;

  1. Lopping some of the overhanging tree branches to allow more sunlight into the area (and thereby encourage plant growth)
  2. Extending the paving (which currently ends near the entrance) so that wheelchair users could access the memorial
  3. Provision of an interpretation board
  4. The possible provision of a commemorative public seat ( https://www.davidogilvie.com/ww1-seat )

The “Friends of Acomb Green” are hoping to have a fund-raising event shortly but, if more work is to be commissioned, in the time available, it is likely that Council and Ward committee funding will be required.

When is a footpath a “Restricted Byway”?

That is the question that the Councils Executive member for Transport will be asked to answer next week.  He will be asked to decide whether, not only pedestrians, but also cyclists, horse riders and a “horse and cart” should be able to use the full length of Grange Lane.

The section in dispute lies between the boundary of the built-up area and Rufforth airfield.

While some farmers prefer to regard the lane, from the A1237 to the airfield as “private”, the Council agreed in 2008 that it was a Public Right of Way (and therefore could be used by walkers)

Grange Lane – end of public highway

Three people are now claiming that other modes of transport should be allowed.

The main area in contention is the section between the A1237 and Chapelfields. This has been a footpath for many years. Some 25 years ago a young child cycled down the slope into the path of an approaching vehicle. The resulting fatality fuelled calls for the access to be gated. This was done for a while, but the access has become insecure again.

One representation has apparently been made claiming that the Council should surface and maintain the whole length of the route although it is effectively a “road to nowhere” for most forms of transport (It is used by farmers to access their fields)

Grange Lane start of public footpath

A horse and cyclist could use the Chapelfields section of path with relatively little work.

A horse and cart? We think not.

Widening and levelling the lane would be a waste of money (Rights for mechanically propelled vehicles were removed by the NERC Act 2006.)

The path was suggested as the preferred cycle route from Rufforth to York a few years ago but a line via Knapton was later selected.

Both are potentially unsafe at the by-pass junction and really need a bridge to be useable.

Grange Lane A1237 junction

The Council would be wise to take whatever steps it can to restrict the use of this path at least until pedestrian safety can be ensured.

In the meantime the interested parties should back off and allow a proportionate solution to emerge. Even heavily used roads in York are full of potholes and diverting budget to maintain a little used path is not in taxpayers interests.

Two years prison for developer who defrauded £50,000 from flood victims on Huntington Road

A property developer who fraudulently took almost £50,000 from victims of the 2015 floods has been sentenced to 24 months imprisonment at York Crown Court yesterday (7 August 2018).

Owen Danter, aged 40 of 78 Munstead Way, Welton Brough, East Yorkshire, was the sole director of OTD Development Ltd before he voluntarily liquidated the company on 20 April 2017.

He was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment in relation to the 12 charges of Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading for which he had previously pleaded guilty on 19 June 2018.

The charges related to building work by the defendants at two neighbouring addresses on Huntington Road, which both suffered extensive flooding in December 2015.

Both properties had to be vacated by the owners due to the extent of the flood damage.

In June 2016, Mr Danter was employed to carry out the required repairs at both addresses, and by agreement, some additional building work.

At both properties goods were paid for but not supplied. At one property Mr Danter issued nine invoices with a total value of £35,063.82 and to the other he issued four invoices with a total value of £14,483.

On four occasions Mr Danter requested payment be made into a different bank account, because he claimed, hiis bank account had been hacked. He provided alternative bank account details which were his mother’s. The bank confirmed there was no such hacking incident.

By late February 2017, the work was not finished, despite completion dates of November 2016 and December 2016 being previously given, leaving both properties uninhabitable.

In December 2016, Mr Danter disappeared for several days, claiming to have suffered exhaustion and a breakdown, but returned to work.

In February 2017, Mr Danter left the addresses for good, claiming he had suffered a complete breakdown. Between June 2016 and February 2017 both consumers were invoiced and paid for goods and services which did not materialise.

When Mr Danter was challenged about it he gave a variety of reasons – that the articles had been ordered, or that the articles had been paid for or that the articles had been delivered and were in his storage facility.

At interview with Trading Standards officers, Mr Danter admitted his management of the company was poor and that he had taken on too much work and had been involved with four other neighbouring properties. He also explained he had been suffering from depression and was dependent on medication.

Cllr Nigel Ayre, executive member responsible for Trading Standards, said: “Deliberately taking people’s money and not carrying out the work would have a significant impact on most people. But to knowingly inflict that on residents who were in a vulnerable situation following the 2015 floods is far worse. This prosecution shows that we will do our utmost to protect residents from unscrupulous traders.

“Anyone wanting to report poor quality work or unfair trading practices should call the Consumer Helpline on 0345 4040 506.”

HHJudge Hickey told the court: “The deception period was 28 August 2016 to 10 February 2017. The victim personal statements and photos of dilapidation make sober viewing.”

Fake consultation Two

Does Spark matter?

Spark April 2018

Officials are proposing to turn a blind eye to the failure of the operators of the Spark container village to implement planning conditions.

Instead a report to a planning meeting next week recommends that retrospective planning permission be given to ignore previously imposed conditions.

Even the burgeoning academic city elite have managed only a handful of comments in favour of Sparks application.

The development currently majors on alcohol-based businesses, omits promised wooden screening, includes a “graphic” on its Piccadilly frontage which is intrusive (at least) and has no proper disabled access.

The operators say they can’t afford to implement the previously granted permission – but are operating the business anyway. They publicly describe the business as very successful

Should we care?

There are several reasons why this approach will create dangerous precedents.

  1. The Council is the owner of the site and is Spark’s landlord. If the enterprise fails, then the Council (taxpayers) will be out of pocket. Officials and councillors on the planning committee cannot inure themselves from this unfortunate fact. Their impartiality is compromised.
  2. It was the developers themselves that offered to clad the outside of the containers on the Piccadilly frontage to make them less intrusive. It is inconceivable that they did not understand the costs of such an exercise and include it in their business plans
  3. Failure by the Council to insist on proper disabled access being available from day one of operation is a dereliction of duty and lets down an important, vulnerable section of the local community. If the operators of any other commercial shopping development in the City, not on a Council owned site, had tried that on, then they would likely have received an enforcement notice the next day.
  4. “Can’t afford to implement the planning conditions” is not a reason to change them. Other developers will quote this precedent if retrospective planning permission is granted.

The planning official’s analysis of the application is disappointing. It agonises about the impact that the buildings and the street art have on the Red Lion (Listed Grade II) and St Deny’s church (Listed Grade I). Officials make the subjective judgement that the development “causes less than substantial harm to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area”.  The impact of the development, acknowledged by officials as “a far more utilitarian development which expresses the structure and appears somewhat cluttered”, extends far beyond the Piccadilly area.

The report claims that “commercial units in Spark have been occupied in accordance with the approved scheme and the social space / business hub is used by various local groups and organisations”.  In reality, several of the (non-alcohol related) units are empty.

Officials claim that the development meets one of the Councils own objectives. “To support strong, vibrant and healthy communities”.

How stimulating a drinking culture helps create a “healthy” community is not explained.

So, should Spark continue?

As its already in place and has a lease until May 2020, the assumption must be that it will stay. The mistake was made when the Council leased the land for such a use in the first place (November 2016).

This was compounded by a poorly thought through planning permission.

The Planning committee should insist that an enforcement notice is issued immediately requiring the disabled access lift to be installed within the next few days. A temporary closure notice should be issued if this isn’t done.

The committee should also insist that the “art” and lettering on the Piccadilly frontage is removed and that the visible container sides are painted in neutral colours.

Notwithstanding this, there are questions that the council as the landlord for the site needs to answer. It should be open about the current amount of public investment that is at risk.

By now the Councils should have received a significant amount in rent and rates. It should say how much?

What’s on in York: Kill or Cure – Living & Dying with the Georgians

Fairfax 4-1024x 683

Fairfax House :

Sat 11 Aug & Sun 12 Aug :

10.00am – 5.00pm & 11.00am – 4.00pm :

Free as part of admission to Fairfax House

Come and meet the ladies of the house who prepared home cures for the family, servants and even the ‘deserving’ poor. Hear about the strange deaths recorded in the frequently published bills of mortality and the even stranger recipes for curing a sword wound, the flux and the ague.

The remedies they turned to were more horrible and varied than your imagination could ever supply.

As a last resort … you might even encounter the Georgian Surgeon who came equipped with an array of special tools but unfortunately no anaesthetic!

Suitable for all ages.

Free as part of admission to Fairfax House

Adult: £7.50, Concession: £6.00, Child (6-16): £3.00, Family Ticket (2 Adults and up to 3 Children): £17.50

For more information or to book tickets please click here.

Fake news? Now we’ve got fake consultation

Controversial Lowfields Planning application being heard next week

Council officials are recommending that the whole of the Lowfields school and sports pitch site be redeveloped.  The planning application will be determined next week, even though objections to the Local Plan have not  yet been considered by the independent inspector.

There are two proposals.

The first  is an outline planning application for the whole site (click) This still includes the highly unlikely Police station (the Police have no plans to move from their current York Road base) and a “health centre” although none of the NHS/GP budget holders have allocated funding for such a project. The application outlines where the Council hopes 96 houses, 26 bungalows, 18 apartments and an 80 bedroomed care home will be located. 6 self-build and 19 “community build” dwellings are also included near the southern boundary of the site.

The second application is the detailed (i.e. final) planning application for the 142 “open market” dwellings (click). Strangely this detailed application is scheduled to be considered before the outline application!. The Council says that 20% of these will be “affordable”. It is these housing plans which are likely to be most controversial as they are the ones being being built on the sports pitch.

A brief history

The area to be built on has increased – and open space provision reduced – every time a new pan has been drawn up by officials

When the Lowfields school closed some 10 years ago, the Council gave an assurance that only the “built footprint” of the former school buildings would be redeveloped. The green space would be protected. The site was slated to be retirement village – the west York equivalent of Hartrigg Oaks.  Plans were produced, and the scheme would have proceeded had there not been change in control of the Council in 2011.

The incoming Labour administration wanted the village to be predominantly public (rather than private ) sector. They raised the possibility of building on the football pitch in 2012 but nothing came of the idea. Four years wrangling later and it was accepted that the development would need private investment.

York went to the local election polls in May 2015. No party said it intended to build on the playing field

The suggestion that the green space would be lost came in December 2016 when the then new Tory housing executive member persuaded his colleagues that selling off the land for private development would provide the money (approximately £4.5 Million) for other projects including facilities in Burnholme.  

They later rowed back from setting up a “development company” and instead plan to manage the development themselves

The Council claimed that “landscaped green space will be open to the public for the first time” In practice the playing fields were open to the public until about 5 years ago when the Council tried to secure the boundaries. At the time, they said this could only be a for a few months.

Alternative proposal for Lowfields tabled by residents

A Lowfields Action Group was formed to oppose the emerging proposals. They established a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LowfieldsActionGroup/

Consultation

  • 2011 – The Lowfields care village was subject to formal consulted on in 2011.  The proposal was widely praised throughout the City
  • 2016 – Local Westfield Ward Councillors conducted a door to door survey in October 2016 which revealed that residents top priorities for the site  were an elderly persons home, flats for “downsizers” and bungalows. They also wanted a nature reserve and the retention of the football pitches
  • 2017 – In October 2017 the Lowfields Action Group published an alternative proposal for the Lowfields site. This was fed into the Local Plan process.

Its over 9 months since the deadline for comments on the planning application passed.

None of the comments made by residents in response to the many earlier iterations are being reported to the Planning Committee next week.

These is a growing suspicion that the Council – as the owner of the site and with a major vested financial liability – is not being even handed with all interested parties.

Unless they adopt a different approach, pressure to have the application “called in” will grow

Noah concerned as two more leave Ark

News is coming in that two Labour Councillors have quit their party.

Six months ago two Tory Councillors, including a former Leader, quit the Conservatives.

This seems to be a trend of almost biblical proportions.

Three other Labour Councillors have quit since 2015 causing by elections in the Micklegate, Hull Road and Holgate wards.

The Labour Group Leader also quit his role only a few months into the life of the new Council

Labour have been ineffectual both locally and nationally for some time, so the move is not entirely unexpected.

It leaves the balance of the Council as

  • Labour – 13 seats
  • LibDem – 12 seats
  • Tory – 12 seats
  • Green – 4 seats
  • Independent Conservatives – 2 seaqts
  • Independent socialists – 2 seats
  • Independents – – 2 seats.

A LibDem/Tory coalition currently runs the Council, providing the only glimmer of stability in the political turmoil that has descended onto the York Council.. .