That was the year that was – 2019

….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.

Kingsway MUGA – Now a building compound

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.

What’s on Poster produced by the Foxwood Residents Association last February

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.

Work at Lowfields

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

There was concern that some unstable trees like this one on Wetherby Road posed a safety hazard.

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.

Cart parking signs

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.

Acomb Library

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.

Harewood Whin

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.

Newbury Avenue
Lendal Post Office

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.

Spark

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.

Spurr Court parking lay-by
Bachelor Hill
Askham Lane

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.

Teal Drive Play area

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 .

Thoresby Road

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.

Foxwood Park

and also other issues!

PROW application

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.

Path strimming works

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

Unlet Garage in Chapelfields

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.

Castle/Piccadilly site

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.

York Railway Station revamp

More electric buses would be coming to York. Coincidentally an encouraging report (for bus operators) on public satisfaction with local services was published.

Electric buses

Lord Mayor’s Christmas Eve carols from 7:00pm

The Lord Mayor and Civic Party are inviting residents and visitors to join their annual Christmas Carol concert in St Helen’s Square on Christmas Eve.

Mansion House Christmas

The audience are encouraged get involved and form the choir for a range of Christmas Carols, with support from the Salvation Army band.

The service starts at 7pm on Tuesday 24 December and is expected to finish approximately an hour later.

The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Janet Looker said: “What a great way to spread festive cheer in the city! I can’t wait to start the celebrations on Christmas Eve with everyone who will be attendance at St Helen’s Square. If you’re in the area, make sure you pop along for a good old sing-a-long with friends, family, neighbours and visitors!”

What’s on in York: Nine Lessons and Carols at York Minster at 4:00pm

CHRISTMAS EVE – TUESDAY 24th DECEMBER

4:00pm  – Nine Lessons and Carols
Our most-popular service of the season consisting of nine special readings, carols sung by the York Minster Choir, and hymns for everyone to join in. A traditional Christmas celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
(Approx running time: 75 minutes)

Capacity is expected to be reached for this service so please arrive in good time.

West doors open from 2pm and will close at 3.45pm.

Admission after this time is not guaranteed. Please note that all seats are on a first come, first served basis and reservations cannot be made for those not in the building.

Other Services

12noon – Crib Service
Traditional and popular family service. All welcome to attending; dressing up encouraged! West doors open from 9am; facilities for prams etc will be provided. (Approx running time: 75 minutes)

11.30pm  – First Eucharist of Christmas (West doors open at 10.45pm)
Traditional ‘Midnight Mass’ with music from the St William’s Singers and York Young Soloists.
Preacher: The Revd Canon Dr Christopher Collingwood
(Approx running time: 90 minutes)

All services are free to attend and tickets are not required.

Hob Moor youngsters leave lasting mark on Centre of Excellence on Ascot Way

Children from York have left a lasting mark on an innovative new building.

Work progressing on Ascot Way centre

The Centre for Excellence will provide disabled children, young people and their families with community and overnight short breaks along with support from a wide range of professionals including clinical psychologists.

Children from the adjacent Hob Moor Primary Academy and Hob Moor Oaks school were asked to help with the construction by laying the first bricks and signing their names on the steel which forms the structure of the building.

The scheme – one of the first of its kind in the country – is a partnership between City of York Council and NHS England. It will enable many children and young people with complex needs to access the help and support they and their families need in York.

The brick laying and steel-signing marks a key stage of the project, which should be completed by summer 2020.

The project is being delivered by Sewell Construction.

Philippa Hughes, Housing Lead for the NHS Learning Disability and Autism Programme in Yorkshire and Humber, said: “The NHS is delighted to support this much needed development in the city of York. It’s heartening to see so many school children contributing to a build which will allow so many of their peers to live full and meaningful lives in their communities.”

Martin Standley, Sewell Construction Project Manager, said: “We feel it’s really important for the children to have as much insight as possible into what’s happening close to their school. This helps feed their curiosity but also helps them understand why it’s so important to stay safe near a building site. 

“Building the Centre of Excellence and redeveloping Lincoln Court is a real honour for Sewell Construction so we knew that the children would be just as proud to get involved and make their mark on the site.”

Richard Ludlow, chief executive of Ebor Academy Trust, which operates the Hob Moor academies, said: “We are fully supportive of City of York Council’s forward thinking plans for this Centre of Excellence and I’m pleased they have allowed our children to be a part of it. True partnership working is always at the heart of successful collaborative ventures.”

Councillor Ian Cuthbertson, City of York Council’s Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “The Centre of Excellence is a landmark building for York, providing a base where children and young people with complex needs and disabilities can receive help and support from a wide range of professionals within the city.

“I’m delighted that local school children have had the chance to put their mark on the building and to be involved at this point in the construction.”

Mandatory energy efficiency target for new homes to be considered by York Council

The York Council is set to ask the government to set high standards of insulation for new home built over the next decade. A meeting on 6th January will consider proposed changes to building regulations for new homes.

York Council report

The government sees a choice between either a 20% or 31% reduction in carbon emissions from new homes. Both options would see higher thermal insulation  standards linked typically with triple glazing and minimal heat loss from walls, ceilings and roofs, plus a waste water heat recovery system.  

The higher standard is achieved by mandating the installation of Photovoltaic cells on roofs (They convert sunlight to electricity).

Strangely both options being presented by Council officials involve the use of gas boilers. Gas boilers are the largest source of carbon currently emitted in the City.

The major benefits would come from heat pumps, a waste water heat recovery system, triple glazing and minimum standards for walls, floors and roofs that significantly limit any heat loss.

The report fails to provide any background financial information. The higher specifications will significantly increase building costs.

In turn that will knock on into purchase or rent costs.

The expectation is that energy costs will also reduce. Maintenance costs for the equipment are not fully tested (the achilles heel of some of the micro wind powered micro generators that were popular a few years ago).

Sadly, without a frank assessment of financial implications and the beginning of a campaign aimed at selling the options to future house purchasers, progress in getting public support for the plans  is likely to be harder than it otherwise might have been the case.

Still credit to the Council for at least putting their likely responses to this government consultation into the public domain.

York Council decides on Public Right of Way requests

The York Council has considered several requests for changes to the definitive map of public rights of way (PROW).

In total Councillors and officials have decided whether to pursue 13 applications.

There will now be a further period of consultation.

The Council has a large backlog of applications which it has agreed to determine before the end of February

Click an individual application below to view each and the decision

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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Former Lowfield School Dijon Avenue York

Condition 26 of 17/02428/FULM

Ref. No: AOD/19/00411 

  1. This relates to sewer easements

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Grass Verge Greenwood Grove York

Crown lift Oak protected by Tree Preservation Order no. 26

Ref. No: 19/02602/TPO 

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64 Moorgate York YO24 4HJ

Single storey front and side extensions and dormer to rear

Ref. No: 19/02551/FUL 

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Friends Meeting House The Green Acomb York YO26 5LR

Installation of insulated render to rear elevation with associated alterations

Ref. No: 19/02519/FUL 

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Acomb Flooring Company Limited 53A Front Street York YO24 3BR

Change of use from retail (A1) to Pilates studio (D2)

Ref. No: 19/02488/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/

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