Spark still to submit planning appeal on cladding

Freedom of Information response confirms no rent or rates paid

Spark was closed yesterday

Despite receiving a decision notice which required the company to implement the original planning condition which included providing cladding on the outside of the containers on Piccadilly, Spark still haven’t started work.

The decision notice was issued on 21st August, over 2 months ago.

Spark were publicly quoted as saying that they would “appeal” to the Secretary of State against the Councils decision. They haven’t done so yet and indeed it could be another 4 months before they have to register an appeal.  Even then Planning Inspectors could take several months to determine the case. That might be close to the May 2020 end of their lease for the site.

The Council says, “It is the view of planning officers that it would be inappropriate and unreasonable for the planning authority to attempt to take planning enforcement action whilst they exercise their right to challenge the Council’s decision”.

Their position ignores the fact that the developers have been in breach of the planning conditions for over 6 months now and that they have failed to record an appeal against the August planning refusal.

With containers having been in place since September 2017, that would mean that the ugly frontage would potentially have been on public view for over 2 years.

A Freedom of Information response (ref: IGF/10492) has confirmed that Spark have not yet paid any rent or rates on their development. The rates issue is blamed on delays in the Valuation Office who have yet to respond to a valuation request issued to them in May 2018.

Developers call “foul”

It appears that the Council issued a contract to Spark which didn’t require any rent payments to be made until March 2019.  It is unclear whether the council collects rent 12 months in arrears on the other properties that it rents in the City (Council house tenants pay rent fortnightly).

The FOI does confirm that building control agreement hasn’t been issued

The original building regulation application was approved at the site, however this has subsequently been amended to incorporate roof cover which is currently being assessed. As soon as this is complete a Completion Certificate will be issued for the site”.

Perhaps not surprisingly other developers in the City are now crying “foul” and are claiming that there is no longer a level playing field.

York Council HQ scandal

Abandoned York Guildhall dirty and overrun with weeds.

The York Guildhall, a Listed building, is rapidly falling into disrepair. The Council – although still the owners of the building – quit the site in 2013, when they moved to new accommodation at West Offices.

Since then the Guildhall has mostly been unoccupied and was finally abandoned in 2017.

The Council had hoped to turn the building into a “business centre” but outside investment proved to be Impossible to attract. A prospective builder was dropped from the development amidst problems with escalating costs. The last estimates were that the project would cost around £15 – £17 million with all the risk falling on taxpayers.

Council leaders, when meeting in May, promised that a revised business case would be published. They confirmed that the Council would run any business centre complex themselves.

Whether there is a need for a business club is open to question. Traditionally traders in York have themselves formed organisations (guilds) to provide what today would be known as networking opportunities. Hence, we have privately funded meeting  halls belonging to the Merchant Taylors and Merchant Adventures while Bedern provides a home for other guilds.

There are more obviously suitable properties available to satisfy business needs.

Stonebow House has announced a business hub while one of the augments put forward for the “Spark” development was that they would satisfy the needs of small businesses.

Even if there is still unmet demand, then there is more obviously flexible accommodation available on Coney Street.

Despite calls for the Council, to explore other less risky options, they said they would press ahead and try to find another builder. Many thought that the Council should have tested the market to see whether private investment could be attracted.

The Council is running out of time. A report in May said that essential repair works to the old building would cost at least £5 million.

With further deterioration now obvious from even a casual inspection, that figure will soon start to climb again.

There is no sign of a new business plan being produced before the end of February. There is no item covering the Guildhall in the Councils 4 month forward plan.

This reinforces views that the project will be “kicked into the long grass” until after the local elections which are scheduled for May.

The coalition Leaders must be beginning to worry that the Guildhall project will turn into their version of the Lendal Bridge folly.

Trees and bushes growing on parapets

Guildhall windows caked with dirt

Stonework stained

Riverbank opposite Guildhall overgrown with weeds

Rust stains on Lendal Bridge

Attempts to attract new businesses to Coney Street but what an image!

That was the week that was in pictures: more dumping and fly posting in west York

A mattress and other items have been dumped in the Cornlands Park

Bus shelter in Askham Lane damaged

Council asked to confirm a date when the much promised, never delivered, lay-by on Askham Lane will be constructed?

Hedge on snicket linking Gale Lane and Haddon Close reported. Needs cutting back

Snicket between Haddon Close and Tennent Road needs clearing of litter (not for the first time)

Fly posters advertising a Fair at ROKO Health Club are blighting the City

Far to much litter, broken glass and detritus on Tithe Close/Tedder Road snicket

Still no action on weeds

Although the Councils contractor was seen last week on his quad bike spraying weeds in some areas, action elsewhere is still awaited.

The are particular issues on cul de sacs and snickets (neither of which are accessible on a quad bike!).

Weeds Kngsway West cul de sac

Weeds Kingsway West cul de sac

We’ve reported dumping Windsor Garth

Andrew Waller points out much needed speed hump repairs on Ascot Way. We are pleased to see that this programme is underway

Weeds over grow path in Windsor Garth

Weeds growing through footpath on Windsor Garth near Sandown Close. We’ve reported the problem but it seems to be another area that has been missed off this years treatment programme

Time of year gullies need to eb checked fro blockages. We’ve asked for those on the little Green Lane footpath to be cleared of leaves

We’ve asked for the Gale Lane/Holgate beck to be cleared of detritus and undergrowth before the winter

UFO are behind schedule in reinstating concrete drives on Stuart Road

Verge and path on Foxwood lane still showing signs of damage following broadband excavations near 12 months ago

One bonus has been the renewal of the flagstones at the Hamilton Drive West bus stop. We asked for these to be done on safety grounds last year

New litter bins have been rolled out to several streets including this one on Kingsway West

We’ve asked for the garage area off Windsor Garth to be tidied up.

 

York cyclists urged to “switch on to road safety” as nights get longer

Cyclists in York are being warned they will be fined if they fail to use bike lights.

As the nights draw in, North Yorkshire Police is launching enforcement patrols across the city to encourage cyclists to “switch on” to road safety.

They will issue Traffic Offence Reports, which carry a £50 penalty, to those riding on pedestrian-only pavements or not using lights when it’s dark.

York Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Lee Pointon said: “As a major cycling city, it’s important that we make sure cyclists in York are safe and legal.

“Cyclists are vulnerable road users. But they also have a responsibility to ride legally and ensure they are seen. So if you ride a bike you must make sure you’re switched on when it comes to road safety.

“The cost of a set of lights is significantly less than the cost of a fine.

“And sometimes the cost is more than just financial – our officers have to knock on doors after cyclists are badly hurt or killed and break that devastating news to their families.

“If you saw what we see, you’d know it’s not worth risking it – you’d ride safely and be seen.”

Cyclists should take the following steps to stay safe:

  • Always use an approved set of front and rear bike lights. You can be fined if you don’t.
  • Switch them on from twilight – as soon as the light starts to drop
  • Check them regularly to see if you need to change the batteries or recharge them
  • Always use designated cycle paths or roads. Keep off pedestrian-only paths or face a fine
  • Wear highly-visible clothing, preferably light-reflective gear
  • Remember that even when you’re well lit you’re less visible at night than during the day, so always pay attention to your surroundings

The patrols will start on Monday and will run throughout autumn and winter.

Good work by Residents Association as verge finally surfaced on Foxwood Lane

Persistent work by the Foxwood Residents Association has resulted in a muddy verge being hard surfaced on Foxwood Lane. It shouldn’t have taken so long but it demonstrates that persistence does pay off in the end.

Hopefully now the unstable style access to Acomb Moor will be repaired by the Council. It has been an issue for over 2 years.

The style access to the Public Right of Way across Acomb Moor has become unstable.

Weeds on some lanes now at head height in York

 

Beaconsfield Street back lane weed now 6 foot tall. No treatment this year by Council

Severus Street

School Street

Milner Street back lane

Hedge on Foxwood Lane obstructing public footpath

Sevral snickets are overgorwn with weeds

Some good news with the weeds which disfigured the offices on the Front Street link road having been cleared of weeds.

.

Sofa dumped in play area

A sofa has been dumped in the Cornlands Road park play area. It is surrounded by rubbish. The issue has been reported to the Council but it is a shame that an area intended for use by younger children should be defaced in this way. Hopefully the Police will be able to increase patrols in the area.

 

Elsewhere at the recycling centre in the Acomb Car Park rubbish has been fly tipped. We’ve asked for the area to be cleaned up and for some of the recycling bins to be repainted.