Nearly 100 elderly and disabled residents to lose York garden care help

The York Council has gone through today with its threat to cease the hedge and grass cutting service provided for many elderly and disabled people in the City

As we forecast, the Council is hoping to save £46,000 a year expenditure on its housing revenue account (HRA).

The HRA currently has a surplus of over £23 million and made £4.3m profit last year

The garden assistance scheme is available to tenants aged over 70 who are physically unable to cut the hedges and grass in their gardens.

The hedges are cut twice a year and the grass on 7 occasions.

409 tenants received the service in 2016.

365 received the service in 2017 following a tightening of the criteria for qualification.

It is thought that the new scheme involving use of the “handyman service” could cater for up to 306 elderly people.

The rest would not be given help. A waiting list might have to be established.

The service will in future be means rested.

The cut has been agreed by a Tory Councillor without any consultation with local Resident Associations or the citywide Tenants Federation.

 

 

Last day for objections to the “Lowfields Green” development

The deadline for objections to the Councils “Lowfields Green” planning application has now passed.

The Action Group opposing the proposal to build on the playing field part of the site have submitted a comprehensive objection. A copy of their objection can be found via their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LowfieldsActionGroup/

Most of the representations of support for the scheme seem to be generated by the  communal living project (Yorspace) although there is general support for the plans for specialist accommodation for the elderly.

None of the representations in favour of the Councils proposals come for people living near Lowfields (or indeed from the Westfield/Acomb area more generally)

The only unconditional message of support for the Council plan has been lodged by Bob Towner – a former Director of Housing at (you guessed!) the City of York Council!  He says local people should use Hob Moor for recreational activities.

Further examination of the artists impressions of the proposals reveal a regimented design, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the 1960’s.

Lowfields Green – a candidate for the least imaginative architecture award?

 

 

 

Elderly in York to be hit as Tories plan to cut garden assistance scheme

Over a year ago, the York Council notified elderly and disabled people that it planned to scrap its garden assistance scheme. The scheme employs contractors to cut the hedges and lawns of elderly and disabled residents.

The plans produced a barrage of complaints and the threat was withdrawn

Now a report has revealed that a Tory Councillor is again planning to slash entitlement to the service. About 50% of current users will be told to make other arrangements.

It appears that some people aged over 70 with severe disabilities may continue to get the service from an estate “handymen”, but many others will miss out.

Story last year

The cuts are expected to save the Council around £40,000 a year.

The Tories claim that this cut is essential to balance the books. They forget that last week a review of the Housing Revenue Account revealed that it will have an average credit balance of over £30 million in each of the next 30 years.

This partly arises from the expected 1% per annum real terms increases in rents.

As well as kicking existing users off the programme, the report talks of establishing a “waiting list” for people who need the service.

The Councillor responsible for the proposal is Sam Lyle a youth who recently graduated from University. Quite what he knows about the challenges faced by many older residents will no doubt become clear over the next few days.

Fortunately, as we have reported before (left), there are a lot of caring students at the York and St Johns Universities who hopefully will prove to be part of the solution to this shabby proposal

In the meantime, the Council’s website is down. Anyone trying to Email Councillors is referred to a web page apparently containing a list of contact telephone numbers. http://democracy.york.gov.uk/mgCommitteeMailingList.aspx?ID=0

That web page is also currently unavailable!

 

Newbury Avenue development – 5 bungalows proposed

Parking concerns remain

The latest proposals for the development of the Newbury Avenue garage site will be reported to the Councils Executive committee next week.

The new scheme involves the provision of 5 one bedroomed bungalows which will be built to a standard that allows easy wheelchair access.

The site is considered suitable for older or disabled people as it is reasonably close to the Lidl store and the number 4 bus service,

The proposal is undoubtedly better than the original plan for 9 apartments.  

Later, plans for 8 bungalows were released but these proved to be too cramped.

The five bungalow specialist accommodation now proposed  is unlikely to significantly increase traffic volumes in the area, one of the concerns expressed about earlier schemes

However, the report fails to address the lack of car parking space on Newbury Avenue outside the existing flats (10 -16) or in the wider Windsor Garth area.

Residents will expect that the demolition of 28 garages (most of which have deliberately been left empty by the Council over recent years) will be mitigated by the provision of more off-street parking space in the area.

In total sites for over 20 parking spaces have been identified in the neighbourhood and there is a reasonable expectation that a Section 106 agreement will fund most of these.

If the spaces are provided, then the revised Council proposal is likely to gain more widespread support

The meeting will also hear new proposals for the development of a similar garage site on Chaloners Road

Residents group publishes alternative plan for Lowfields school development

Action Group sets up Facebook page

Residents alternative to Council plans

The Save Lowfields Playing Fields Action Group has stepped up its activities following the decision of the York  Council to submit a planning application aimed at developing the local playing field.

The application was made two weeks before the current consultation, on the Draft Local Plan, was due to conclude.

The Action Group have submitted an alternative development plan in response to the Local Plan consultation. It shows that the playing field could be conserved while still allowing 200 hundred new homes and flats to be accommodated on the site of the school buildings.

Details of the alternative – and the groups objection to the Councils planning application – are now beginning to appear on their dedicated Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/LowfieldsActionGroup/

One key driver for the opposition is the Council plan to move the football pitch over 2 miles to a site on Sim Balk Lane (where it will become the home for a Bishopthorpe based football team).

The Action Group has quoted the Councils own figures which show that the Westfield area is already short of all forms of open space and sports pitches.

Council figures demonstrate lack of open space in the Westfield area

They have won the support of local Councillor Andrew Waller who says he will object to the plans unless they are amended to save the playing fields.

In his local newsletter he says that the proposed alternative open space and sports facilities are simply too far away from Lowfields to be of any use. He points out that there isn’t even a direct bus service to the Sim Balk Lane site.

“There isn’t enough open space for recreation  in the Westfield area and this application, unless amended, will make things even worse.”

Residents have until 15th November to record objections to the two planning applications

Overall site layout http://tinyurl.com/Lowfields-layout

Housing application http://tinyurl.com/Lowfields-housing

The original proposal, tabled by the Council in 2011, would have seen a care village, aimed at older people, built on the school site.

At that time around 70 housing units were proposed.

 

Exhibition for new single temporary accommodation site in York

Residents and business are being invited to see plans on 1st November for a single building to be converted to meet City of York Council’s accommodation requirements for temporarily homeless people.

Following approval by senior councillors on 16 March 2017, James House on James Street has been bought and is in the pre-planning stage.

Now, ahead of an application for planning permission being submitted in early November, residents are invited to see for themselves an exhibition of plans for the proposed 57 self-contained flats which will be owned and managed by City of York Council.

The project is being supported by a £2.365m grant from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

The plans aim to consolidate into one building, much of the accommodation for temporarily homeless people currently scattered across the city. It will also replace the accommodation at Ordnance Lane.

At James House, it’s proposed that the more-easily managed building will include a public reception, staff offices, interview rooms and a training kitchen. It will have council staff on site from 8am to 8pm seven days a week, and will have on-site security staff outside those times.

In addition to the formal planning application consultations, the public exhibition of the proposed scheme will be held on Wednesday 1 November between 9:30am and 3pm at the Raylor Centre, James Street, YO10 3DW which is next door to James House itself.

For more detail on the scheme, please email jameshouse@york.gov.uk

York Labour housing building plans questioned

A Labour leaflet advocating large scale housing building plans on greenfield sites has been criticised by the Liberal Democrats.

The Labour plans would see many playing fields and green belt sites developed. They are similar to those promoted by the party in its 2014 Local Plan which failed to secure government approval

Now the Liberal Democrats have hit back with some home truths

 

Muddle, confusion and fabrication – York Council approach to Lowfields planning application

Many residents living in the Lowfields area were surprised to get a letter last week from the Councils Housing Directorate. The letter told them that two planning applications had been submitted which would lead to the development of the whole of the Lowfields site.

The letter quoted reference numbers. 17/02428/FUL, covering roads and housing, and 17/02429/OUTM covering “the whole site including self-build, community housing, care home and health facilities”

It turns out that someone jumped the gun as these applications still do not appear on the “planning on line” web site  https://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications//

The letter claims that there have been changes made following the last consultation with residents in the summer. The Council fails to highlight what these changes are.

The housing department also claims 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.

The usable green space, on the plans that have been published so far, show an area of useable amenity land which is similar in size to the small area which lies at the junction of Dijon Avenue and Lowfield Drive.

The Council has blundered if it is canvassing for support – at taxpayers’ expense – for a scheme which is subject to a planning application. There is a long-standing protocol that, where a local authority is both the landowner and the planning authority, then it must behave in an impartial way. That principle has been breached already. It is likely to increase the pressure for the proposal to be called in by central government for determination.

Perhaps even more extraordinary, was a claim made by the Tory Councillor responsible for housing on Friday who said that the houses would be built by the Council. It would be the “biggest housing development by the Council since 1988”

It emerged today that no such decision has been taken.

The media release which led to the story in the media – and apparently issued by the Council – was not published on their web site 

Indeed, with only 20% of the properties likely to be affordable, there would be little incentive for the Council to take on the burden of appointing professional staff to project manage what would only be a 3-year project.

Private house builders have been subject to the 20% rule for over a decade and could produce homes more quickly and economically.

You only have to look at the delays dogging Council building projects (Mansion House, Guildhall, York Central, Community Stadium) to see why any entry into the speculative housing building market would be viewed with alarm by taxpayers.

Willow House elderly persons home site goes for student lets

The York Council is set to pocket nearly £3 million when it sells the site for a new 126 bed student accommodation.

Most of the bids for the site were for student housing although one developer wanted to build a care home on the site which is next to Walmgate and has views of the city walls.

The bids are revealed in a report to a Council Executive meeting

Willow House had 34 beds for elderly people and closed at the beginning of the year.

The Council says it is expecting student numbers in the city to increase by over 4000 during the next 10 years.