Lincoln Court – Council admits planning blunder

The sorry saga surrounding the Councils plans to modernise and extend the Lincoln Court independent living building on Ascot Way has taken a new twist.

A brand new planning application has been submitted. If approved, it will replace the ill fated and poorly judged proposal passed by the Planning Committee as recently as December. The new proposal is for a “three storey extension to accommodate 15 new flats with associated alterations to the internal layout of existing flats (creating 10 new flats in total), a single storey front extension to form a new main entrance, erection of a plant room to side, reconfiguration of parking provision and associated landscaping works including new boundary fencing”.

Planning report Dec 2018

That decision was criticised because it ignored a request by Sport England that a replacement all weather games facility be provided in the neighbourhood when the existing facility was developed. The extensions to Lincoln Court are partly to be built on the games area. Sport England made a specific request for a replacement with possible sites being identified by local residents on the new area of playing field being provided at the school or alternatively on the Thanet Road sports area.

Another mistake made by the committee was to require that the additional 10 flats being provided at Lincoln Court be extra care” units. They would have required 24/7 staffing support. Officials later privately confirmed that this was a mistake and that it had been intended to provide an additional 10 flats identical in function to those existing on the site.

The “extra care” argument had been used to justify providing only 16 parking spaces to service the planned 36 flats and the staff and visitors to the much larger new building (see extract from December report). There are currently 12 parking spaces allocated to Lincoln Court. Many of them are heavily used with visiting staff sometimes being force to park on adjacent roads.

The way that the Planning Committee handled the December application was subject to a formal complaint in December. A response from the Council is still awaited.

Unfortunately, the new planning application does not address the parking issue despite claims by officials that the ”extra care” units did not require a parking space and hence could justify providing only 16 spaces. There is an underused grassed area to the south of the site which could have matrix protection installed and which could then be used as overspill car parking.

More seriously, the Council continues to turn a blind eye to the concerns about lack of provision for younger people in the neighbourhood. We would expect the Sport England condition to be incorporated into any revised permission.

NB. No action is planned on escalating traffic congestion issues in the area. Problems on the narrow roads in the estate are being exacerbated by recent planning permissions for additional housing in the estate which only has one access route. The December plan attracted more criticism when it was revealed that the elderly residents would have to move out of their homes for over 12 months while the work took place

Haxby Hall elderly persons home plan hits buffers

Haxby Hall

The Haxby Hall home currently has a total capacity of 49 care beds. Within those 49 beds there is provision for approximately 35 residential care beds, eight beds for people living with dementia and up to six step down/short stay beds which are used interchangeably.

Services at the home are delivered by 51 staff (31.58 full time equivalents). When last inspected by the Care Quality Commission it was given a “good” rating 

It’s a year since the Council decided to pull out of Haxby Hall. The expectation was that a third party would take over the running of an enlarged, modernised home.

A feasibility study conducted in 2016 showed that a care home of up to 70 beds could be delivered on the site. One key issue for development was access to the site, which is constricted by the adjacent ambulance station. The plan for Haxby Hall was agreed by the Council on 7th December 2016.

A well attended supplier engagement event was held on 6 September 2017 to promote the opportunity and receive feedback on the proposal. Residents and their families were also consulted.

12 months later the proposal has been withdrawn from the Councils forward decision making programme. Difficulties in negotiating the new access are blamed for the project being shelved.

In January 2018 the then Director Martin Farren outlined the position

“The future of Haxby Hall is a key part of our Older Persons’ Accommodation Programme which looks to address the needs of York’s fast-growing older population by expanding and modernising care provision across the city.

“This report looks at options to safeguard the future of Haxby Hall older persons’ home and procure a provider who will deliver and operate improved, modern care facilities”.

The bids for the takeover were due to be received in September 2018. It was likely that residents would be decanted to other homes while work took place, with the new home scheduled to open in 2020.

No update has been given to any public meeting since then.

The latest delays follow problems at Oakhaven Elderly Persons home which has been empty for two years.

A facility scheduled to be provided at Burnholme is also understood to be delayed.

No detailed planning application has been submitted by the Council for the development of elderly persons facilities at the Lowfields site (although a, much more controversial, commercial housing development did get planning permission there a few months ago)

The Council is also pressing ahead with closing Windsor House which has specialised in providing support for those with dementia

All in all, we think that there is a need for some public reassurances about the timescales which now apply to the Councils Elderly Persons Strategy!

Lincoln Court redevelopment – more confusion

Lincoln Court

The York Council has now formally issued its planning decision on the application to remodel and extend Lincoln Court on Ascot Way.

The plans for the  “independent living” block of flats attracted controversy before Christmas when it was revealed that residents will have to move out to allow work to be completed.

This decision was in conflict with assurances given during consultation meetings held earlier in the year.

Now the conditions issued for the planning decision reveal that the 10 new units planned for the site will be “extra care” beds. Condition 12 of the permission states that this will ensure that the flats are not subject to “right to buy” legislation.

Extra care facilities involve 24/7 support and are currently provided by the Council at buildings like Marjorie Waite Court. Because of the staffing demands, the facilities require a “critical mass” of users to make them economic. 10 bedrooms falls far short of the numbers required to sustain such levels of support.

The users of extra care facilities rarely have their own transport and thus have reduced needs for parking provision (although their carers are likely to need some provision).

On the other hand, the car park at Lincoln Court is already congested and the addition of 10 additional flat units will stretch it to breaking point. The current plans do not allow for a rear access to the potential overflow parking – and delivery access – available at the adjacent school car parks.

Officials speaking at the planning committee meeting in December said that the new flats would offer the same facilities as those already in use in the building.

We think that too many mistakes have been made with this project.  

There is now confusion over when residents will be able to return to their homes, over the function of the 10 new units which will be provided and over the future of the all-weather games area which Sport England says should be replaced elsewhere if it is bulldozed.

The planning application should be referred back to the planning committee for these issues,  and problems with traffic congestion, to be clarified and resolved.

 

Work starts on edging park footpaths – more on Lincoln Court

Dickson park footpaths being edged. Residents are seeking similar work in other areas

The Kingsway all weather games area is now in good condition and available for use. Unfortunately the Council has decided to scrap it and have ignored a request from Sport England that a replacement be provided elsewhere. The decision is now subject to a formal complaint

The scaffolding has been removed from Lincoln Court. We understand that work on installing a new boiler, pipework and a full rewire of the building – together with the construction of 10 additional flats – will not commenced until the late spring at the earliest. In the meantime most of the building is likely to remain empty.

Windsor House may also be empty for a period of time. Demolition work can’t start until a replacement central heating system has been provided for Lincoln Court

York Council publishes “on line” map showing brownfield development land

The York Council has agreed to provide “on line” access to its map of brownfield (previously developed) building land in the City.

The accuracy of the map, which shows sites of over 0.2 ha, is in some doubt as it shows, for example, the Lowfields sports pitch as being “brownfield” This pitch has never been previously developed (the neighbouring school building site is correctly identified)

The purpose of the register is to provide information in a standardised way across all planning authorities in England, and has to be updated annually.

The Register should include previously developed land that:

  • has an area of at least 0.2 hectares or is capable of supporting at least 5 dwellings
  • is suitable for residential development
  • is available for residential development
  • is achievable for residential development

 

Brownfield land register

Universal Credit payments may affect York residents over Christmas

City of York Council is advising York residents to be aware of Universal Credit payment changes ahead of the festive period.

Universal Credit is handled by the Department for Work and Pensions to help people on a low income or not in work, meet their living costs. It combines six benefits, including housing benefit and working tax credit, into a single monthly payment.

If you are in employment whilst claiming Universal Credit and receive your wage early in December, you may find your next Universal Credit (UC) payment is reduced. This may leave you short of money over the Christmas period.

If you receive two wage payments during your UC assessment period this will reduce the amount of UC you will receive for that period, and depending on personal earnings, may not receive any UC payment.

This may mean that wage payments are less in the following assessment period and UC will be higher for that next assessment period.

If you are new to Universal Credit you may not receive your first payment until January 2019.  You can apply for an Advanced Payment to tide you over, through your online account, your work coach or the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644. If you this will mean you are unable to pay your rent then please contact your landlord.

If you are unsure when your UC payments will be made, make sure you organise your finances to ensure this doesn’t cause you issues over the holidays. For more information, visit: https://www.york.gov.uk/UniversalCredit.

Councillor Ian Gillies, Leader of City of York Council, said: “Universal Credit payments are normally made in arrears once at the end of the month, rather than being paid every week. However, many York residents will be unaware.

“This is why we are encouraging people who receive UC to be prepared by looking into the festive holiday payment plan.”

Councillor Carol Runciman, executive member for adult social care and health, said: “I would strongly urge anyone in receipt of Universal Credit to double check their upcoming payment dates, so they are not caught out in the New Year.”

“More importantly, if anyone is concerned about their Universal Credit payments, please call 01904 552044 for help and advice.”

Payment dates for Universal Credit:

Universal Credit customers will receive their December payment within their usual payment period. Payments will not be delayed due to the Christmas and New Year public holidays.

Universal Credit payment is due on… Universal Credit will be paid on…
Saturday 22 December Friday 21 December
Sunday 23 December Friday 21 December
Monday 24 December Monday 24 December
Tuesday 25 December Monday 24 December
Wednesday 26 December Monday 24 December
Tuesday 1 January Monday 31 December
Saturday 5 January Friday 4 January
Sunday 6 January Friday 4 January

Payment dates for all other benefits

Customer’s payment is due on… Customer will be paid on…
Monday 24 December Friday 21 December
Tuesday 25 December Friday 21 December
Wednesday 26 December Friday 21 December
Tuesday 1 January Monday 31 December
Wednesday 2 January Monday 31 December,

apart from ESA, JSA and IScustomers in England and Wales – they will be paid on 2 January

 

Please note that the information on GOV.UK for payments due on 2 January is currently incorrect and is in the process of being updated

Building plans near Moor Lane nature reserve

Askham Bog

Developers submit plans which could threaten the future of Askham Bog.

Developers are seeking “outline planning permission (with all matters reserved except for means of access) for up to 516 residential units (Class C3) with local centre (Use Classes A1-A4, B1a, C3, D1) public open space with pavilion and associated infrastructure and full application for demolition of existing buildings and structures and creation of ecological protection and enhancement zone”.

The location is on Moor Lane “OS Fields 5475 7267 And 8384 Moor Lane Acomb York” Click this   Reference for full details 18/02687/OUTM

The application went “live” on the Councils “planning on line” web site only yesterday. Objections have to be lodged by 9th January with a statutory expiry date of 30th January.

Some believe that the application has been timed to coincide with the busy festive season when resident’s attention is distracted.

The proposal is highly controversial.

Sir David Attenborough said during a visit to the site in 2016,

“If someone was proposing to put a building site next to York Minster there would be an outcry. This is a treasure that is irreplaceable.

“The citizens of York are lucky to have it on their doorstep and it is their responsibility to look after it.”

A Yorkshire Wildlife Trust spokesperson said the bog was a remarkable survivor of the ancient fenlands of Yorkshire, a ‘wonderful mosaic of fen, woodland and meadow,’ occupying the site of an ancient lake left behind by a retreating glacier 15,000 years ago.

The present Council specifically took the step of excluding the Moor Lane area from the development plans when it published its Local Plan. In 2 months time an independent inquiry will take place into the Plan.

It seems that the developers want to “bounce” a decision on the proposal before the formal Local Plan can be adopted.

They may be hoping that Labour will regain control of the York Council at the local elections which are taking place in May 2019. When Labour were last in power, they slated Moor Lane and other areas of Green Belt for development.

These decisions were revoked in 2015 by the new coalition administration.

Unfortunately the present Council is also guilty of pre-judging the Local Plan having succeeded recently in “bouncing” a plan to develop playing fields at Lowfields through the planning system. They did so before residents had the opportunity to voice their views at the public inquiry.

Opposition to the proposals is being coordinated by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Click this link to go to their website www.ywt.org.uk

Moor Lane development plans December 2018

Newbury Avenue

Garages to be demolished

The Council have appointed Transcore Ltd to build the 5 new bungalows scheduled to be constructed on the site of the Newbury Avenue garages.

The value of the contract is £731,505.90.  It is understood that separate contracts are being awarded for other work such as the demolition of the existing garages.

The works are currently held up following an administrative mistake which meant that movement of telecoms equipment, which needed to be moved before alternative parking provision could be made, wasn’t ordered soon enough.

The Council contract for the bungalows gives a target completion date of 3rd September 2019.

We understand that when demolition contractors removed the garage doors at Newbury Avenue they found a stolen car in one unit.

Separately, the Council have been served with a Freedom of Information request which seeks to explore why some Council garages have been left unused despite there being a waiting list of potential renters.

Dismay as elderly residents told they must quit their homes for 12 months

Council apology for Lincoln Court tenants

Lincoln Court

The council has apologised to Lincoln Court tenants ahead of a £1.4m scheme to improve and extend the independent living scheme.

While the modernisation of the independent living scheme on Ascot Way had been generally welcomed, tenants had been assured that the necessary modernisation work – which includes the provision of new double glazed windows – could be completed while they remained in their flats.

Now the Council has reversed the assurances that were given during the consultation meetings earlier in the year.

Other aspects of the work are also proving to be controversial.

The amount of car parking being provided is inadequate.

No rear access is being provided to the new development which would have offered access to overflow parking at the school as well as a route for emergency and delivery vehicles.

Planning Councillors acted against the wishes of Sport England in agreeing to demolish the all weather games area (MUGA) without providing a replacement. This omission likely to be the subject of a formal complaint

The Council statement reads, “Following detailed design work and site surveys to modernise and enlarge Lincoln Court, the project’s contractor and health and safety specialist has advised it would not be safe for any of the work to be completed while the building remains occupied.

As the landlord, the council has taken the difficult decision that all Lincoln Court tenants must be moved to suitable, alternative accommodation for the duration of the work. All tenants have received an apology from the council for this unexpected disruption.

Tenants, the executive member for housing and a ward councillor attended a meeting with staff this afternoon. This will be followed by one-to-one conversations with each tenant about their needs and preferences for alternative accommodation.

Michael Melvin, interim corporate director of health, housing and adult social care at City of York Council, said:

“We apologise to all our tenants for this unexpected and disappointing level of disruption. Moving everyone to safe and suitable alternative accommodation by the end of May 2019 is now our priority.

“While 10 new homes will be added to the scheme, and the building improved for the long-term benefit of older people in the city, we regret the degree of upheaval the present tenants will face.

“In addition to today’s meeting we have written to all tenants within the scheme and are going beyond our legal obligations to support them through this time. We have offered tenants the option of moving on a permanent basis, or to return to Lincoln Court when the refurbishment is completed.

“We will also provide practical and financial support, and will arrange and pay for every tenant’s move. This will include moving their belongings and bringing their new home up to the decorative and furnished standard of their flat at Lincoln Court.

“We are committed to making the process as well-supported as possible. Additional staff will work to find tenants alternative accommodation that best matches their needs and preferences regarding location and setting.”

With the requirement to relocate tenants established, the council is taking the opportunity to review the current design of Lincoln Court to ensure the best possible layout and accommodation to create an independent living scheme fit for the future”.

Major changes on Ascot Way & Hob Moor school playing field agreed

Council planning report was wrong on Lincoln Court extension claim

Lincoln Court. Work has started on replacing windows. Concerns about parking

Plans to provide a centre of excellence for disabled children, modernise & extend Lincoln Court and move part of the Hob Moor school playing field were approved last night.

Generally, the improvements will be welcomed.

Unfortunately, the planning committee failed to recognise and act to deal with the cumulative effects that these developments – coupled with others previously agreed – will have on transport systems in the Kingsway estate.

Embarrassed Council officials, at yesterday’s planning committee meeting, were forced to admit that the 10 additional units planned at Lincoln Court were not “extra care” beds as claimed in the Council report.

Instead they will be similar in function to the sheltered flats which form the existing development.

The distinction is a major one as extra care beds imply a much higher level of care need while the occupiers of conventional sheltered flats are more likely to own cars.

They will need somewhere to park them.

The committee declined to require that a rear entrance be provided to the new site. This would have permitted greater integration with the adjacent Hob Moor Oaks school which caters for children with disabilities and might have been used to address overflow car parking, delivery, emergency vehicles access and other transport concerns.

Nor was the committee prepared to even ask transport officials to review the cumulative impact that planning decisions are having on the Kingsway area.

It is difficult not to conclude that the Councils leadership is prepared to casually dismiss the wishes of a community which has lacked leadership since the local resident’s association folded 5 years ago.

The relatively beleaguered inhabitants of the area – amongst the poorest 10% of the population in the country according to some government statistics –  are viewed as less likely able to “raise a stink” than might their “middle England” counterparts in other parts of the City.

 Consequently, the Council has felt able to ignore their legitimate requests for improvements that have been tabled in response to successive development consultations.