Future of Lowfields school site to be considered on 30th June

Lowfields school site is now overgrown

Lowfields school site is now overgrown

Only days after the NHS said it was considering building a  Mental Health Hospital on the Lowfields school site, the York Council has slated the future of the location for debate on 30th June.

A new “Forward Programme” has been published which gives only 4 weeks notice of the discussion.

The three items down for decision are: 

1. Move forward with plans for the re-development of the Lowfields school site, beginning with public engagement regarding use and design.
2. Consult on the closure of a further Older Persons’ Home in the autumn of 2016 and one in the first half of 2017, following the Moving Homes Safely Protocol.
3. Open negotiations to purchase land adjacent to Haxby Hall in order to facilitate the examination of options for its future.

The original intention had been to site an older persons “village” on the footprint of the former school site. This was subsequently abandoned when the then Labour led Council lost control of the project amidst escalating costs.

Instead, they decided to concentrate all resources on building a new “hub” on the east of the city at Burnholme.

This led to accusations that the Council was ignoring the needs of older people on the Acomb side of the City. 

There now seems to be no chance of the Council finding money to develop the site itself.

Instead the hope is that it will be put on the open market (as it could have been two years ago) with bids being assessed against an agree set of criteria. If the aim remains to provide accommodation principally aimed at older people (the site is ideally located near to amenities) then a high weighting could be given to bids that can guarantee that outcome. 

This is what the Council (belatedly) did when selling off the Oliver House elderly persons home for redevelopment. That site was subsequently sold to a company specialising in retirement properties.

This strategy has the added value that older people “downsizing” to Lowfields would free up more family sized accommodation elsewhere.

Residents will be keeping an eagle eye on the Council to ensure that no development intrudes onto the Lowfields playing fields.

There is a shortage of football pitches on the west of the City and potentially the former school playing field would also be an important amenity for any new community development.


Bus shelter engulfed by nettles and branches

Overgrown bus shelter smallA bus shelter on Askham Lane has been engulfed by weeds. Branches from a “self seeded” bush totally obscure the view from the shelter which is well used in inclement weather. Ponding on the adjacent highway has been a problem for some years.

Nettles also pose a risk for young children.

It is a repeat of a problem which happened in 2014. Residents complained that they could not see approaching buses while those waiting at the stop could not be seen by bus drivers.

Local Councillor Andrew Waller is following up the issue with the Council. He has also asked for weeds on Waterman Court to be treated.

Nearby the bus shelter at the top of Foxwood Lane is also gradually being overwhelmed. Here the problem is aggravated by weeds growing on the roof of the shelter.

The Westfield Ward committee meeting taking place on 22nd June is likely to consider allocating part of its budget to manage overgrown trees and bushes in the area.

Graffiti presents poor image of York

Graffiti at entrance to Fossgate car park

Graffiti at entrance to Fossbank car park

Graffiti at entrance to York - Selby cycle track

Graffiti at entrance to York – Selby cycle track










Graffiti is unfortunately the first thing that some visitors to our City see. The entrances to the Fossbank shoppers car park are particular blackspots.

We think that – as well as getting the graffiti cleaned off quickly – the authorities should install cameras aimed at identifying and prosecuting  those who are disfiguring the City

Meanwhile signs (below) are still displayed in Goodramgate giving directions to the Tour de France start.

This event concluded over 2 years ago and the signs add little to the streetscape in what is a Conservation Area.

Commemorative plaque or just forgot to take the sign down?

Commemorative plaque or just forgot to take the sign down?

Trees blight Foxwood properties

Overgrown trees prompt security fears

Overgrown trees prompt security fears

Several trees in the Burgess Walk area of Foxwood have grown so large that they are contributing to a security problem. The trees are protected by Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) which were imposed when the estate was built over 30 years ago. At that time the trees – which had formed part of the boundary of a farmers field – were modest in size. Their conservation was viewed as one way of avoiding the bleak and windswept look that many new developments have until new planting establishes itself.

However the trees have continued to grow and now block out both sunlight and the illumination offered by street lamps. The access footpath is therefore unnaturally dark prompting security fears. Parts of the trees regularly drop off – adding to the list of residents concerns.

Some trees are overgrowing the highway and pose a threat for high sided vehicles

Some trees are overgrowing the highway and pose a threat for high sided vehicles

The matter has been discussed by the Foxwood Residents Association who have asked officials to consider  taking action to have the TPOs lifted. This would permit the trees to be lopped or even felled and replaced by a species more appropriate for small sub-urban gardens.

There is a broader issue.

The Council is largely reactive in dealing with problems caused by overgrown trees and bushes. We believe that local wards should have a delegated budget which they can use to manage the stock of trees and bushes in an area. The budget could be used to remove or cut back vegetation which is blocking paths and amenity areas.

It could also be used to ensure that an annual tree planting programme is sustained.


Elsewhere the trial wildflower bed established on Huntsmans Walk (below) as now been moved to a more rural location. The island has been turfed.

Huntsmans Walk grassed area restored

Action taken to report issues in the Hob Moor area

Ascot Way area should be used to ease car parking problems

Unused area on Ascot Way should be used to ease car parking problems

We've reported that repairs are need to bus stop bording areas on Hamilton Drive

We’ve reported that repairs are needed to bus stop boarding areas on Hamilton Drive

Kick about area needs litter removing

“Kick about area” needs litter removing

Carriageway is uneven at Quuenswood Grove/ Hamilton Drive junction

Carriageway is uneven at Queenswood Grove/Hamilton Drive junction

Salt bin on Ascot Way has been vandalised

Salt bin on Ascot Way has been vandalised

cat found

Cat found

Green waste dumped next to Hob Moor beck

Green and other waste dumped next to Hob Moor beck

Road markings in Middleton Road hammerhead have worn away

Road markings in Stuart Road hammerhead have worn away

Current York Council consultations

Licensing variations

DrunksA consultation on a proposed review of City of York Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy has opened.

At the Licensing Committee meeting on 25 April, it was agreed to pursue North Yorkshire Police’s request to amend the local authority’s current policy. Published in 2014, it includes a ‘Special Policy’ which relates to applications for the variation of a premises licence or club premises certificates.

The police believe these variations to licensed hours or style of operation can have as much impact locally as granting a new license. To give these variations greater weight and to reflect that they can significantly change the nature of the original license conditions, the force has requested that the policy’s ‘Effects of the Special Policy’ section is changed.

This section of the policy currently reads:
5. “Application for the variation of a premises licence or club premises certificate due to a change of style of operation:

Any application for the variation of style of operation which is subject to relevant representations will be considered on its own merits having regard to the promotion of the licensing objectives

6. Application for the variation of a premises licence or club premises certificate resulting in an extension of the premises and increased capacity:

There will be a presumption to refuse such applications, where relevant representation are received and where the increase in capacity would undermine the licensing objectives unless the applicant can rebut the presumption that the granting of such a variation would undermine the licensing objectives.

7. Application to vary the hours of operation attached to a premises licence or club premises certificate:

All applications that seek to extend the licensed hours will be considered on an individual basis. No different policy will apply in this area as opposed to the rest of the city.”

The a new form of words proposed is:

5.  “The following variations are considered to be material:

• change in style of operation

• physical extension of the premises that increases capacity

• extension of hour of operation

and therefore, there will be a presumption to refuse such applications, where relevant representations are received [deleted and] unless the applicant can rebut the presumption that the granting of such a variation would undermine the licensing objectives.”

Views can be sent by email to: licensing.unit@york.gov.uk or posted to Licensing Section, City of York Council, Eco Depot, Hazel Court, York YO10 3DS.

Other current Council consultations

Council to receive 100 page report on…

……….goose droppings

click to view

click to view

The York Council’s Executive will tomorrow Thursday decide what to do about the fouling caused by York’s Canada & Greylag Goose click to viewpopulation.

There had been suggestions that a cull was needed although treatment of eggs has been an option for some time.

It is difficult to see the geese as a major issue in the City although they reputedly produce as much as 5 pounds of waste each day.

There is a goose dropping cleansing machine – invented not surprisingly in Canada – which could be used to clean  parks and footpaths of all droppings. See demonstration video.

Ward Committees have funding available to use on local problems like these and so could hire in a machine periodically.

NB. The Executive will also consider removing the right to free home to school transport for some York children. The report on that item includes only 20 pages.

A plan that could see social care budgets cut by £1 million is covered in 90 pages

Violence, public order and street crime levels up in York

The latest crime figures released by the Office of National Statistics reveal a worrying trend in York with street crime and sexual offences at record levels.

Drug offences have also risen during the last 3 years.

York Crime stats

York Crime stats

While at the overall number of crimes is slightly down, with 44790 recorded during 2015, the figures do not include “anti social behavior” (ASB).

In some neighbourhoods ASB accounts for as much as 50% of the reports made to the Police. 

The figures are bound to lead to more calls for a return to community policing principles and a reversal of the York Council’s policy of centralising agency anti crime work in a City centre “hub”.