Road users warned of delays as busy Tadcaster Road/St Helens Road junction gets upgrade

City of York Council is warning of severe disruption as it replaces ageing and unreliable traffic lights at the junction of Tadcaster Road and St Helen’s Road from Monday (30 April).

The work is expected to last up to six weeks, and will include temporary lights. The council is advising drivers to allow more time for their journeys, consider alternative routes or travel options like Park and Ride!

While replacing the traffic lights,  the council is making changes to the junction which will improve traffic flows, take advantage of new technology and also prove cheaper and more efficient to run.

The changes to pedestrian crossing arrangements were discussed last summer (click).

Work is scheduled to take place from 7.30am – 5.30pm, Monday to Friday and from 9am – 3pm on a Saturday. Evening work will be required during certain phases of the work, this will be kept to a minimum to minimise disruption to local residents.

Bus routes should remain unchanged throughout the junction improvements.

Work will be suspended from Wednesday 16 May – Friday 18 May and on Saturday 26 May due to race meetings at York Racecourse.

The five year traffic signal asset renewal programme was given the green light by the councillor responsible for transport and planning in November 2015.

The total replacement programme will cost £2.62m over five years and will be funded through the capital programme budget and the existing Local Transport Plan budget.

For information on travelling in and around York visit  www.itravelyork.info/roadworks

In a separate development the Council says it is “pioneering intelligent transport technology to tackle congestion on the city’s roads”.

In the first of two Department for Transport projects which could change the way traffic is managed in the UK, the council has installed special sensors from Lendal Arch gyratory and along the A59.

These will pick up anonymous (‘hashed’) mobile phone signals and data from ‘connected’ cars.

The council can then combine this with other data – like real-time bus movements – to give a complete picture of how traffic behaves.

This will help the council to set traffic signals which respond to how traffic actually behaves, especially in events like sudden downpours.

£400,000 cost for new litter/poop-scoop bins in York

A contract for the replacement of litter and poop scoop bins in the City has been awarded to Wybone Ltd

The Council is expecting to replace most of the bins in the City over the next year or so.

The total value of the contract has been estimated as being worth £400,000.

Some new bins have already started to appear on the streets.

Separately, the Council is being asked to repair those salt bins which need attention. Many were used for the first time during recent wintry conditions.

£35,000 cost of making West Bank Lodge safe

As we reported in February, West Bank Park Lodge is to be made safe.

The building was subject to an arson attack in 2016.

It has now been revealed that the demolition contract will cost £35,503, The contract was awarded to MGL demolition.

The police have still to make any arrests in connection with the arson incident

Lendal works to be completed before the end of the week

Station Rise resurfacing contract cost revealed

The delayed contract to resurface part of Rougier Street, Station Rise and Station View will cost £153,666.

Work on the contract was suspended a fortnight ago. https://www.york.gov.uk/LendalArch Work is now expected to be completed by Wednesday

Colas Ltd won the contract on 15th March 2018

NB. The value of the new Park and Ride contract in York  is revealed in newly published contract documents.  Won by First, it is expected to be worth £40 million over the next 8 years.

Pensioners concerns over Council sheltered housing plans

Lincoln Court

Occupants of Lincoln Court had their first chance on Thursday to comment on the Council’s plans to modernise their sheltered accommodation.

In the main, the upgrade plans – which include new kitchens, bathrooms, heating and wiring, new front doors and windows, a new door entry system, roof repairs and external & internal decoration – were welcomed.

However, concern was expressed over the time that residents would be expected to live on a “building site”. This arises out of the proposal to demolish the adjacent Windsor House building and replace it with a centre for the disabled.

Proposed new layout

Residents, most of whom are in their 70’s and 80’s, felt that they could be inconvenienced for as long as three years while the work took place.

It emerged at the meeting that most of the work on Lincoln Court would not be undertaken until the adjacent new building had been completed. This led residents to point out that the noise and dust generated by any demolition process would filter into their living areas because of the inadequacies of the existing doors and windows.

Prior to the meeting the Councils plans to address parking and traffic congestion problems on Ascot Way had been criticised and these issues were raised again by residents. Residents were particularly angry that they might be expected to pay for residents parking permits because of pressure on staff parking. A plan was also needed to address parking needs during the building and modernisation phases.

Residents are also concerned that the existing bus stop – located outside Windsor House – is not shown on the new plans.

One resident went further and said

Hedges blocked view and light from Lincoln Court flats last summer

The new homes will take away our landing sitting areas, take away all light in the corridors and fill the few outside areas we have. The small, existing garden will not be freely available as we are to become, in effect, a community centre and can only access it via the community room (which is to be in use most of the time). We are also expected to cover all the running costs of the shared facilities as the fuel costs are shared by residents and no charges made to outside departments, clients etc. Even the electricity costs of all the offices and rest areas will be paid by us – we were told that it isn’t a problem at other developments & we can also use facilities! Not good enough”. 

Officials have apparently threatened to install security doors on each corridor prompting concerns that the building would resemble a “prison”.

Residents had complained last year about the Councils failure to cut a tall hedge at the rear of the properties. The hedge effectively blocked light from the flats, prompting a feeling of isolation.

The consultation event was dismissed by some as a “paper exercise” and there were calls for a fundamental rethink before planning permission was sought.

Local Councillors are now looking into the issues raised.

York to lead the way in animal welfare policy

 

Senior councillors are being asked to formally adopt an animal welfare licensing policy.

This has been drawn up using guidance from the Institute of Environmental Health Officers, ahead of the new Regulations being issued by DEFRA relating to animal welfare licensing.

The policy relates to licenses being issued for activities relating to animal welfare. These are issued for establishments which board animals, breed dogs and offer horse riding. They are also issued for keeping dangerous wild animals, for pet shops and zoos. Animals to be trained and used for exhibition must also be registered with the council.

Besides licensing 34 animal boarding premises, York licenses eight pet shops, four riding schools and one dog breeder. The sole licensed zoo is for Askham Bryan College’s educational purposes and the council has registration for eight animals which can be exhibited.
The council inspects premises along with vets, to ensure standards are met.

Cattle return to strays – Council offers dog walkers advice

Take the lead and follow the countryside code on Strays

City of York Council is urging dog owners to take the lead and follow the countryside code when cattle are reintroduced onto Strays across York later this month.

The countryside code encourages everyone to respect other people and animals, protect the environment and enjoy the outdoors. This is particularly important when cattle are reintroduced onto the city’s strays for grazing to help manage the land.

Dog owners are being encouraged to be responsible around cattle. This includes keeping dogs on a lead when near cattle as they can spook them, picking up dog waste as this can spread disease and closing gates to ensure cattle don’t escape.

Grazing is a recognised form of managing grassland, including on nature reserves, throughout Britain.  Since 2010 Hob Moor, Bootham Stray, including the Clifton Backies nature reserve, and Walmgate Stray are in  Higher Level Stewardship agreements with Natural England.  The management prescriptions to which we have to comply for the sites include grazing and hay cutting to support the wildlife interest of open grassland, rather than be intensively managed or being left to scrub over.

For information on walking near livestock visit www.ramblers.org.uk/advice/safety/walking-near-livestock.aspx

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Carlton Tavern site still being promoted for elderly persons home use.

Interesting that the Council strategy for providing elderly persons care beds is still dependent on a 74 bed facility on the Carlton Tavern site.

The site was recently refused planning permission for an elderly persons care home by the Council’s own planning committee.

The revelation comes in a paper which considers how the  Morrell House home will be closed.

City of York care strategy report April 2018

Castle/Piccadilly round 3

Economic impact assessment on City Centre economy missing

After a delay of 18 years, the Council are to make another attempt to get planning permission for a redevelopment of the Castle/Piccadilly area (Castle Gateway).

It is long overdue.

The City centre has changed a lot since the last planning application failed at a public Inquiry.

Two decades ago it seemed that the City centre economy would continue to depend on the retail sector to provide its main attraction. There were hopes that “anchor” large stores provided in the Piccadilly area would sustain the retail economy in the face of competition from out of town stores and the, then just emerging, trend to shop “on line”.

But that option has all but disappeared. Larger shops in the City centre are finding conditions difficult with the once premier destination – Coney Street – now containing several long term empty units.

The Council has therefore rightly published plans for the Castle area which do not relay principally on retail development.

Instead, yesterday, a much-leaked report majors on City centre living space, a possible Castle Museum extension and some independent shopping units.  There is no place for the hoped-for airspeed museum which could have occupied the ground floor of the 17/21 Piccadilly possibly as part of a restaurant use – a possible missed opportunity given the need to stimulate visits to the Elvington airfield museum.

The Castle car park will close with the design team saying that the resultant green space will provide an entertainment space for 365 days a year (revealing a touchingly optimistic view of climate change).

There may be a similar level of wishful thinking in proposing to build apartments and a £10 million multi story car park with 400 spaces on the flood plain on St Georges field, although the plans to allow public swimming in the Foss Basin may provide a prescient transport option for occupants when water levels are high.

The officers report says, “any funding gap in delivering the full ambition of the masterplan can be responded to through scaling back the proposals, identifying external funding sources, or the council providing capital funding through the budget setting process

The estimated total costs of the project – which are the costs of delivering the entire public realm, infrastructure, and the new MSCP – is £30m. The potential gross surplus income from the council owned residential and commercial development opportunities is £22.5m”.

So where next?

There are several good ideas in the Council’s published plan which deserve to be developed further. The first step should be to publish a candid impact statement indicating how other City centre businesses will be affected.

The number of public parking spaces available is crucial. The Castle car park is York’s best used despite the surface being badly rutted. It produces over £1.2 million in revenue for the Council. To this should be added an income stream from the Castle Mills car park (recently closed). The Piccadilly car park has been less well used since the advance space availability signs stopped working 4 years ago.

Adequate car parking capacity is vital for the retail economy and visitor attractions (which are open outside park and ride hours). People don’t expect to have to carry heavy luggage or shopping for long distances.  Walking distances are important. The proposed 4 story car park at St Georges field would be a 716 metre walk to the end of Parliament Street. By comparison the distance from Piccadilly is 95 metres, from the Castle car park is 275 metres and from Castle Mills 461 metres.

The is always a danger in publishing idealised artist impressions of new developments. They invariably portray a mature green environment on a sunny summers day. The reality on a wet, November evening may be markedly less attractive.

The Council must now do two things before it proceeds any further

  1. It must produce a realistic (best case/worst case) economic impact assessment &
  2. It must abandon any thought of being the developer for the commercial elements of the scheme. It has already been shown to be inept both at the Guildhall (project abandoned, £12 million of taxpayers money at risk) and the Monks Cross stadium development (public subsidy increased from zero in 2010 to at least £13 million today) Let the professionals get on with it.

Otherwise it is a worthy attempt to reconcile wildly differing opinions on a site which is crying out for redevelopment.

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