Minster changes take step forward

A refined set of plans which would see significant changes in the area around  York Minster have been published.

A copy of the prospectus can be downloaded from this link

The proposals are both ambitious and respectful tot eh heritage of both the Cathedral itself and the surrounding City.

They include a new “Queen Elisabeth Square” adjacent to the west end of the Minster. This is a welcome move towards the pedestrianisation of Duncombe Place. A vehicular access route – which will apparently still accommodate the Railway museums “Disney” train – has been retained.

The role of Deans Park as a quiet part of the City centre has been respected.

Likely to be more controversial – with the devil being in the detail – are plans for new buildings in the area where Constantine currently sits. The Roman will be rehoused further down Deangate, where he will be joined by a statute of Queen Elisabeth II

 A separate Deangate cycle track is planned ending the present shared space arrangement with pedestrians. Access only restrictions will be enforced ending the visits of parents to the entrance to the Minster School. They will have a separate drop off point at the end of Duncombe Place. The school itself will get enhanced facilities.

St Williams College will be brought back into use – not before time – and will accommodate Minster office staff. It is an old building, with an arcane layout, so good look to them with that.

The existing Church House administration offices will be converted into flats which will be rented out.

There are plans to develop the Deanery garages as residential accommodation for workers.

That may not suit everyone and there are some potentially awkward interfaces with the surrounding community. The new square, for example, doesn’t seem to make the best of the possible linkages to Stonegate.

But overall the proposals represent good progress and are being progressed in an inclusive way which reflects well on their authors.

Responses to the consultation can be made via this link The consultation closes on 16th June 2019.

Greening of York

No, not a reference to the influence of the Green Party.

More the steady advance of weeds on amenity paving areas, back lanes, snickets and on footpaths. Weed growth is heavily influenced by weather conditions, of course, but the Council doesn’t help by being secretive about when they have scheduled weed treatments for this year. Treatment hasn’t always been effective in the past.

Weeds gaining a foothold in back lanes
Footpaths already reduced in width
Self seeded trees allowed to damaged boundary railings and adjacent public footpaths
Weeds and unswept gutters let down local streets
More weeds – not treated last year
Weeds are growing rapidly on some uncut verges

Building works annoy Front Street residents

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Works have started on the demolition of the bowling green buildings on Front Street. Planning permission was granted last year which allows developers to build 10 houses there.

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The proposals were highly controversial as they ruled out a coordinated development which would have secured the future of the Council owned land (former allotments) to the rear of the library car park as well as the open aspect at the back of Chancery Court. A holistic approach was favoured by those residents who completed an opinion survey.

The planning committee inexplicably agreed a Section 106 contribution to the provision of alternative sports/green space facilities but at a site located in the Holgate area.

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Now local residents are complaining about the noise and disturbance being caused by the contractors. It has been suggested that the contractors are trespassing on the Council owned land, which itself has a nature conservation role.

Residents have called on local Councillors to take action to ensure that the contractors respect the amenity of neighbouring properties

The future of the former allotments site needs to be clarified quickly by the Council which has owned it for over 10 years.

It was slated to be an extension to the library incorporating a “pocket park” to retain a green aspect for the benefit of the Front Street area.

However no progress has been made on that project.

York students offered apprenticeship taster with Community Stadium Contractor

Buckingham Group Contracting (currently building York Stadium Leisure Complex at Monks Cross) is offering a second Apprenticeship Taster Day on Tuesday 28 May.

The Taster Day is a perfect opportunity for any Year 11 interested in a career in both technical and trade construction occupations.

The young people who get to attend will find out what it’s like in a real construction environment around employees and apprentices working on the Community Stadium.

Places are limited and students will be given places on a first come, first serve basis. If you would like to apply for this taster, please visitwww.york.gov.uk/apprenticeshipevents

For more information, or to find out how to be involved in 2020’s Year 11 Taster Day in January, contact the York Apprenticeship Hub onyork.apprenticeships@york.gov.uk or 01904 553732

Hungry children in York?

A national research organisation has published statistics which is claims means there are still pockets of “child poverty” in the City.

The new LibDem led Council will be expected to make an early difference in this area.

We have long campaigned for the York Council to devote more resources to improving public services in poorer neighbourhoods. The symptoms of derivation include lower life expectancy levels and poor health. The latter is often connected to the availability of healthy living facilities and advice.  Obesity levels in children are also an issue in many areas.

The report published by “End Child Poverty” uses national data to estimate the likelihood of child poverty in each ward in the City.

This data is tabulated. Hull road, Guildhall and Westfield are the three most vulnerable areas.

Child poverty rates in York wards

York is far from being the most needy City in the country.

….but there is sufficient objective and anecdotal evidence to suggest that local policies are failing.

The new Council could make a start by withdrawing the threat to build on open spaces and sports facilities in the Westfield area.

Lowfields misery continues

The Lowfield Action Group Facebook page makes it clear that residents have major concerns about the current development works in the area.

There are continuing complaints about noise, dust and working hours extending beyond those approved in the planning permission.

Communications from the Council have been minimal although another exhibition is promised prior to the main contractor starting on site. The current contractor is only undertaking clearance and layout works.

One piece of good news is that work on providing an additional 3 parking spaces on Tudor Road is due to start next week.

The Council latest planning application, which should have been determined by the end of April, it is still outstanding.

There is still no sign of a planning application for the Care Home much less the health centre and “police station”, not that they were ever likely to materialise anyway.

“Yorspace” are apparently still trying to raise funds for their “communal living” scheme while the Councils decision to sell them land at a discounted rate may yet prove to have been illegal.

Hopefully the new Council will be able to find someone competent and sensitive to local residents views when they decide who will lead on housing and planning matters for the next 4 years.

Certainly communication and supervisory systems need major improvements.

Foxwood woman fined for dog offence

Two women sentenced following noise complaints against dogs

Two dog owners in York were ordered to pay a total of £2421.74 by York Magistrates on 7 May after failing to comply with the conditions of a noise abatement notice.

Lesley Smith (aged 62 of Hinton Avenue, Foxwood, York) received multiple complaints from neighbours in 2016 following continuous disturbances from her four dogs in the early hours of the morning.

Ms Smith’s dogs were also left outside for up to two hours on an evening, causing further noise disturbance to the neighbours despite numerous warnings, an abatement notice and a caution being issued.

City of York Council Neighbourhood Enforcement Officers carried out surveillance of a property belonging to Samantha Flower (aged 42 of Lincoln Street, Leeman Road, York), after they received multiple complaints from neighbours in 2017.

Council officers employed noise monitoring equipment and noted over 15 barks in one minute after 11pm during a visit to Miss Flower’s property in February 2019.

Appearing at York Magistrates on 7 May, Miss Flower pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the conditions of a noise abatement notice and was fined £120, ordered to pay costs of £100 as well as a surcharge of £30.

Ms Smith pleaded guilty by post to failing to comply with the conditions of a noise abatement notice and was fined £450, ordered to pay costs of £1676.94 as well as a surcharge of £45.

Happy families

Not unexpectedly York Liberal Democrats have announced that they are entering into a “partnership” with the York Green Party to run the York Council. Together the two groups can command a majority of the votes on the new Council.

it was perhaps too much to expect that the new administration would have some policy announcements to underpin the “happy families” photographs. They may be right to adopt a cautious approach although there are pressing issues to be addressed not least those relating to empty property, strategic planning, financial strategy and hiccups in leisure programmes.

As a minimum we would have expected the two parties to have issued a statement indicting how the new authority would be managed. We await confirmation that they will attempt to re-introduce all party decision making committees for example.

There is also the “elephant in the room”. Lack of transparency has been a hallmark of the York Council for the last 8 years. The Council has become semi detached from people who live in the City. Assurances that this will change in the future are needed before any new officials take office on 22nd May.

Policy prospectus decidedly short on specifics. Appears that the Greens aren’t keen on a return to the committee system?

NB. The Liberal Democrat Group has not announced who its officers will be for the forthcoming year. The Leader of the Group would also expect to become Leader of the Council next week, so there is a certain amount of urgency.

More delays to York Local Plan

A planing inspector has told the York Council to consult again on their plans to block MOD bases from being used for house building.

The planning inspectorate says that the changes – agreed earlier in the year – are major and require 6 weeks of public consultation.

The proposals mainly involved the Strensall camp where Natural England argued that redeveloping the base could adversely impact on the nearby nature reserve

In turn this meant that the Green Belt boundary would alter.

The move came as something of a surprise to the MOD who pointed out that part of the base was a previously developed brownfield site – the governments (and Councils) preferred location for housing developments.

The Inspector also wants to see the results of a consultation on new housing need figures. The figures had been scaled back following work by consultants who said that underlying housing demand figures were significantly lower than had previously been forecast.

The shock move means that the start of the “examination in public” will be put on ice again.

It is now unclear when the City can hope to have a fully approved Local Plan in place.

Planning Inspector delays York Local Plan