Public Right of Way between Foxwood Lane and Osprey Close

Foxwood Lane access

The Foxwood Residents Association  have today launched a project aimed at getting the footpath which links Osprey Close to Foxwood Lane (opposite Foresters Walk) designated as an official Public Right of Way (PROW).

Doubt had been cast on the status of this well-used path by the landowners who are we understand objecting to its inclusion on the definitive footpath map.

The path forms part of a network of walks which are particularly popular with dog owners.

The landowners stopped grazing the field last year. As a result, sections have become overgrown

About 6 years ago the owners tried to get Acomb Moor (of which the affected fields form part) allocated as development land. This proposal was rejected in 2015 but a public inquiry into the Council’s new “Local Plan” is due to start shortly and there are concerns that the green belt boundary may once again be brought into question.

Confirmation of the line of the path would help to ward off any change and would also allow much needed repairs to be undertaken to the access stile

To register a Public Right of Way, at least 20 people are needed to sign a document saying that they have used the route during, at least, part of the last 20 years.

It is clear from the wear on the entrances to the path that many people do use it.

If you are prepared to sign an evidence form confirming that you have used the path during the last 20 years (or more) please Email: foxwoodra@btinternet.com We will arrange for a form to be sent to you.

Following the delivery of a newsletter over the weekend several people have already come forward and offered to fill in evidence of use forms.

 

Residents sceptical about Council planning applications.

Concerns ignored in committee report as play, congestion and parking fears rise

Kingsway area residents have expressed concerns that their views have been ignored in reports being presented to a planning committee meeting on Thursday. The reports consider plans for new developments in the area on Council owned land.

Newbury Avenue

The lack of alternative car parking provision was a major issue in the Newbury Avenue area when planning permission to demolish 28 garages was granted last May. The planning committee specifically required that 4 alternative spaces be constructed before demolition works started. This would have involved moving a telecoms cabinet which would have taken about 8 weeks to complete. 24 weeks later it turns out that the Council have only just asked the telecoms companies to act. Rather disingenuously the Council states that, as the garages are now all empty, demolishing them will not add to the parking problems in the area. They don’t admit that, despite a long waiting list of people wanting to rent them,  the Council stopped new lettings in 2012. It was this action that has contributed to the parking problems which are already apparent in the area.

Hob Moor School playing field

It has been known for some time that the Council intended to expand by building on the school playing field which lies to the rear of Windsor House and Lincoln Court. It came as something of surprise to many residents that this included the demolition of the Multi User Games Area (MUGA) Early in the consultation process the Council said that any sports or play facilities that were affected would be provided elsewhere on the site.

This is now under question.

Children’s ball games facility threatened

The proposal at Hob Moor school is for  “a playing pitch on presently unused land to the east of the school together with an area of informal “Forest School” activities including a wetland, timber walkway and a fabric covered outdoor teaching space”.

The new location, “ comprises an area of unimproved grassland which partially includes an area of derelict ridge and furrow of good quality which represents a survivor of a once more elaborate area surrounding the outskirts of the City and dating back to the Medieval period”.

There is no mention of either an all-weather kick about area or any other play facility being re-provided.

Windsor House

The redevelopment of this site mentions the need for” a Community Use Agreement” for the new school playing field.

It is unclear with whom the agreement would be, for what hours and via with what access route?

The report on the Windsor House site dismiss the concerns raised in a petition collected by local residents. Officials accept that the local highway network is sub-standard (too narrow to meet modern standards). They claim only about 18 car trips a day would be generated by the 42 members of staff who will work at the new Children’s Centre. They claim 13 parking spaces will be adequate.

The officials conveniently forget that parking problems in the area have already been exacerbated by other building works including the 66 additional homes at Hob Stones.

Changing lifestyles mean that many more delivery vans also now visit the area.

At the very least the Council should ensure that there is a service road provided, from the parking area at the Hob Moor school, to the rear access to the centre. This might reduce the traffic impact on Kingsway West while providing an access for mini buses carrying disabled children and for deliveries.

Lincoln Court

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

The proposal would see an additional 10 “extra care” bedrooms provided on the site. There are currently 22 apartments located on there. These are

being modernised with work having started recently on providing new double glazing. These will generate additional traffic and parking demands.

The report makes the outrageous claim that the MUGA is “disused”; something that officials apparently told the Sports Council in a bid to get them to withdraw their objection to the closure plan.

In fact, the Council suspended routine maintenance on the facility while discussions took place and later secured the entrance to prevent use. Funding had been made to provide “off the streets” activities there last summer but this was never implemented.

The MUGA has now been renovated and is once again usable with surrounding vegetation cleared back

It seems that west York faces a further loss of green fields and play facilities.

Inadequate parking provision will blight the area while congestion levels will increase

The neighbourhood deserves better.

Disabled children’s centre site plan 1

Lincoln Court expansion plans 2018

 

Closure of Lendal Post Office gets mixed response

A local MPs reaction, to news that Post-Office services will be transferred about 200 metres to a site within W H Smiths on Coney Street, has provoked a mixed reaction. A photo of a local Councillor giving the clench fist salute at an anti-Post Office street rally, raised concerns that this might be the precursor to barricades being erected in the streets, accompanied by loud singing of the “Internationale”

The MP was pictured pasting a “protestcard” in a dummy pillar box (apparently oblivious to the fact the Royal Mail has been a separate business for many years).

But she may have a point.

The Post Office’s “on line” consultation seems to be less than transparent. It refers to the introduction of 7 day a week services at the new site (good) but singularly fails to say what services will be provided there.

Lendal Post Office

It merely says

 “A wide range of services would still be available at the (new) branch”.

So not all services will transfer then?

We have written to the Post Office asking them to clarify which services, currently provided at the Lendal office, will not be available at the Smiths branch, and where the nearest alternative customer access point is located?

Without this information, customers can’t possibly respond to the Post Office questionnaire which asks whether people will be inconvenienced by the move.

We have also asked the Post Office to provide quality of service stats for their present Lendal operation.

For example, mean and maximum queuing times?

We think that the Post Office should also publish customer quality of service targets for any new branch.

WHSmith

If they don’t provide more information, then we may have to look out an old songbook.

How does it go,

This is our final and decisive battle;
With the Internationale humanity will rise up!

..although possibly, being York, that might only involve a slightly heated exchange on “twitter”?

That was the week that was in west York in pictures

As the Council has stopped edging verges some paths are now gradually disappearing. Short sighted policy. Several residents in Ridgeway have signed a petition asking for action on this issue.

Also in Ridgeway there are problems with deteriorating footpaths. They could get pretty dangerous after frost gets to work this winter.

Nearby, this is a section of the Askham Lane path which will be resurfaced before the end of the year

Unfortunately parking on verges in Ridgeway is making a mess of the newly reinstated verges. Leaf fall is also a hazard.,

Problem with leaf fall on Askham Lane footpaths as well. We have reported the problem to the Council for attention

We’ve also reported litter in the planted areas in Dickson Park

To end with some good news. The Christmas lights in Front Street are brightening up the area. Good work by the Acomb Alive traders again this year.

Acomb busy today. Council gives start date for Askham Lane footpath repairs

Acomb car park very busy today. Market and Christmas Fair taking place on Front Street

Acomb market today (Saturday). Lots of stalls and already very busy.

The Council has announced that it will start footpath resurfacing works on Askham Lane near the junction with Ridgeway on 10th December.

The TalkTalk UFO contractors have been undertaking reinstatement work in the Ridgeway area this week. Pressure is growing for a more thorough refurbishment of paths and verges. Some verges badly need edging but the Council are being very coy about what they will do and when

Are you being served?

The Council has updated its record of the number of issues raised by Councillors. The figures were supplied promptly this year in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Councillors interpretation of their role – and residents expectations – tend to vary. Those Councillors who regularly conduct door to door surveys and who routinely  “walk their wards” reporting public service issues tend to record the highest number of complaints.

Councillors have other responsibilities such as attending meetings. Details of attendance rates – which generally tend to be high  in York – can be found on the Councils web site (click)

Council elections are scheduled to take place in May 2019

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!