Tudor Road choked with building site trucks.

Residents posting on the Save Lowfields Playing Field Facebook group ( https://www.facebook.com/LowfieldsActionGroup/ ) are reporting chaotic scenes this morning as large trucks queue on Tudor Road to gain access to the site.

There have been problems with congestion as the trucks arrived as pupils were making there way to school. Tudor Road is relatively narrow and is on a bus route.

Neither the contractors nor the Council have said how many large vehicle journeys can be expected at this entrance each day and to what timescales.

One of the objections, to the planning application for the development of the site, related to safety concerns about the Gale Lane/Tudor Road junction.

The York Council claimed that the junction had the capacity to deal with extra movements but many residents remain sceptical.

Castle “Gateway” development will cost £55 million

Officials recommend York Council borrows £45.8 million to fund major development

The York Council is being asked to fund phase 1 of the Castle Gateway development next week. The development includes

  • Providing the replacement MSCP at St George’s Field that will allow Castle Car Park to close and be replaced with new public realm
  • A new pedestrian cycle crossing over the inner-ring road
  • A new pedestrian cycle bridge over the Foss
  • A new public park at the rear of the Castle Museum and a riverside pocket park on Piccadilly
  • 106 new apartments at Castle Mills – 20 of which would be new council housing – above street level commercial spaces suitable for small independent traders
  • New apartments above further commercial spaces at 17-21 Piccadilly

Contrary to expectations, the Council is planning to undertake the development itself putting potentially £55 million of taxpayer’s money at risk.

Masterplan for Castle Gateway

There is an estimated viability gap of £3.3 million even if all flats and commercial spaces are sold. £532,000 will be spent diverting a sewer on St Georges Field.

20 Council apartments would be built at Castle Mills at an estimated cost of £3.7 million.

The “delivery strategy” for the, long unused, 17-21 Piccadilly site (currently occupied by Spark) would not be determined before summer 2020. Officials want to build apartments above ground floor commercial units on the site. It is not clear why such a development could not be private sector led (reducing risks to taxpayers).

There is a danger that the Council, is now giving some elements of the £1.5 million “Masterplan” a “Moses” status.

The location of the £2.4 million Foss bridge, the £1.5 million Castle Museum park and the (frankly slightly odd) £800,000 inner ring road surface level crossing may all be nice to have but they are scarcely essential.

Even the multi storey car park at £14.2 million now looks like a very expensive way of facilitating the provision of a new park.

Simply selling the development sites – as surely the Council should have done with 17-21 Piccadilly by now – would produce a receipt of £6.6 million. This might be a useful insurance if the Councils other reckless property gambles (like the refurbishment of the Guildhall) go belly up.

Other major Council funding commitments like York Central and the outer ring-road are also imminent.

If the Council decides to go forward with the recommendations, then they would be wise to adopt a parallel path approach and seek alternative proposals from the market.

They would then be in a position to make an informed choice when they make a final decision later in the year.

A small change in the national economic picture could leave the Council with empty properties and no way of paying interest charges on its borrowings, without prompting massive public service cuts.

The Castle Mill development is scheduled to be completed in spring 2023; a few weeks before the next Council elections are scheduled to take place.

Bootham Park Hospital could become the site of an independent living development for older people.

Council leaders are set to consider the next steps to secure public access, better cycle and pedestrian paths and other local priorities for the former Bootham Park hospital site.

Enterprise Retirement Living has been named as the preferred buyer by NHS property services.

The plans would create 125 independent living retirement homes and would secure public access to parts of the 1777 John Carr designed grade 1 hospital building, including the boardroom, gym and bowling alley.

The site is ideally located for older persons accommodation being within walking distance of all amenities including the hospital and railway station.

Land ownership at Bootham Park

A report published ahead of next Tuesday’s York Council Executive meeting outlines the options available to the council, based on local priorities and potential benefits identified during the extensive public and stakeholder engagement process.

The council says that it has been working closely with health partners to influence future development on the site.  “These efforts are set to be rewarded, with the site’s current and future owners due to talk with the council about public access, cycle paths, retaining more of the sale receipt locally and other priorities of York residents.   Air ambulance landing site and NHS use of the Chapel are set to continue, ERL and NHS Property Services (NHS PS) are set to ‘positively engage’ with the council over other key requests identified during recent consultations to influence the future of the site including public use of the Parkland”.

Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said:

“This is very encouraging news, and welcome reward for our approach to shaping the future development at Bootham Park.

“Our ambition has always been to make sure these historic buildings and grounds continue to serve our city, and we will continue to communicate the priorities of our residents with the new owners.“

The report asks Executive to agree that the Council will use its rights as owner of a strip of access road to secure b

  • beneficial public use of the parkland in front of the hospital building
  • Improved pedestrian and cycle routes through the site
  • Conservation and redevelopment to deliver homes and services which are of benefit to the city

City of York Council has been working with NHS Property Services, The York Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Vale of York CCG to influence the site’s future.

This included a site development report informed by public and wider stakeholder consultation in 2018. The results of the 2019 consultation over this plan are contained within the Executive report, with 1657 comments identifying public access to the green spaces, key worker accommodation, better cycle and pedestrian pathways and suitability of any new buildings as the priority.

These activities were funded as part of the government’s One Public Estate programme, which supports public bodies to use public land and property to boost economic growth, supply housing and regeneration, and integrated public services.

Executive takes place at 17:30 on Wednesday 21 January at West Offices and will be webcast live at www.york.gov.uk/webcasts.

York Minster precinct plans

The Minster has commenced the final stage in its consultation over a new Neighbourhood Plan.

There have been some changes since the last survey mostly for the better.

 The new plan and feedback arrangements can be found by clicking this link

 The major areas of debate are likely to concern the plan to build a new cafe and visitor centre at 1 Deangate. Plans to build next to the south entrance have (rightly) been scrapped. The Minster Stone-yard exhibition barn will be moved away from this area (allowing uninterrupted views of the Cathedral).

Admission tickets will be sold from a property at the end of Stonegate/Minster Gates.  

It is less clear how the new boundaries of the (expanded) Minster school campus will be delineated.

Two cycle routes have been retained with one curving through Queens Walk and Minster Green while the other follows the existing carriageway line. The opportunity to provide a, daytime only, cycle route (by passing Deangate) through Deans Park has been missed.  

The new “Queen Elizabeth Square” which incorporates part of Duncombe Place, is retained. It is compromised by allowing vehicular access to the Dean Court Hotel and the Purey Cust homes.  Some will feel that a dropping off point near St Wilfred’s Church would allow reasonable access during pedestrian hours (with an electric hand trolley service if necessary). Many will feel that providing a turning circle for the, outdated, Railway Museum “train” is also an unnecessary feature.

Still the plans represent a measured and welcome approach to neighbourhood planning and, in many ways, are an exemplar for similar projects elsewhere in the City.

Minster statement January 2020
The area near the South entrance will be remodelled

Latest planning application for the Westfield Ward

 Below are the latest planning application received by the York Council for the Westfield ward. 

Full details can be found by clicking the application reference 

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Acomb Sports and Social Club, The Green, York

| Erection of single storey recreational building with associated external works and car parking

Ref. No: 19/02690/FUL 

This application has not formally been publicised yet, but details are on the Councils planning web site.

If approved it would see the York Bridge Club move from their premises in Holgate into Westfield. As such it would be the first new leisure facility that the area would gain after a decade which has seen the closure of several local amenities including the bowling club, football pitches at Lowfields, the multi user games area etc.

The single storey building itself is unlikely to be controversial but the site selected is currently allocated, in planning documents, as open sports space. It was last used as tennis courts some 20 years ago.

If the Bridge Clubs current premises in Holgate Road were to be converted into residential accommodation, then it is likely that this would weigh in the balance.

A planning decision is likely in the spring.

Existing Club and proposed new site
Proposed layout

Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning on line web site.http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

NB The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received

Hydro electric power generation scheme at Naburn set to be approved

The Councils planning committee is being recommended to approve an application which would see York see its first modern hydro electric power generation on the river Ouse.

The generators would be sited near Naburn Lock.

The proposal comprises two Archimedes screw turbines, a multi-species fish pass, a turbine house building, hydraulic channels, trash screening and access improvements. The scheme is expected to generate a peak power output of less than 500kW and an average annual energy production of 1.2 GWh. The applicant states that this is sufficient to power around 310 homes and provides an effective CO2e saving of around 620 tonnes per year.

The intake would be situated within the island Application Reference Number: 18/02552/FUL Item No: 4b bank just upstream of the weir, with water passing through coarse trash screening before arriving at the sluice gates and turbine house. The screw turbines would discharge into an outfall channel that re-joins the main river just downstream of the weir. A new fish pass will be constructed along the left-hand side of the hydropower scheme.

Naburn Lock is located on the River Ouse in a rural location to the south of Naburn village. The construction of the locks took place in 1757 and 1888 and has created an island upon which is located the workshops, stores and offices associated with the operation and maintenance of the lock. There was formerly a water mill on the island (constructed between 1813 and 1817) which fell out of use around 1955 and was demolished in 1958.

The locks themselves are listed at Grade II (“Old and New Lock”). Directly to the east lies the Naburn Banqueting House, a vacant Grade II listed building, together with the lock keeper’s house. Access to the site is along a single track road from Naburn Lane, which also serves the Naburn Lock caravan park, located to the east.

Naburn Lock is accessible to members of the public and there is a car park and information board at the end of the access road.

The application will be determined on 16th January

Latest planning applications for the Westfield Ward

 Below are the latest planning applications received by the York Council for the Westfield ward.

Full details can be found by clicking the application reference

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Former Lowfield School Dijon Avenue York

Condition 24 of 17/02428/FULM

Ref. No: AOD/19/00414 

Relates to sewer adoption

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Acomb Bowling Club Front Street York YO24 3BZ

Conditions 10, 14, 16, 17 & 18 of 18/00586/FULM

Ref. No: AOD/19/00410 

Relates to access arrangements for refuse vehicles, landscaping (see plan), drainage, road construction and cycle parking.

Front Street Bowling Club land landscaping plan

—–

94 Askham Lane York YO24 3HP

Single and two storey side extension

Ref. No: 19/02550/FUL 

——-

Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning on line web site.  http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

NB. The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received

Latest planning applications for the Westfield Ward

 Below are the latest planning applications received by the York Council for the Westfield ward.

Full details can be found by clicking the application reference

—-

Former Lowfield School Dijon Avenue York

Condition 26 of 17/02428/FULM

Ref. No: AOD/19/00411 

  1. This relates to sewer easements

—–

Grass Verge Greenwood Grove York

Crown lift Oak protected by Tree Preservation Order no. 26

Ref. No: 19/02602/TPO 

—–

64 Moorgate York YO24 4HJ

Single storey front and side extensions and dormer to rear

Ref. No: 19/02551/FUL 

—–

Friends Meeting House The Green Acomb York YO26 5LR

Installation of insulated render to rear elevation with associated alterations

Ref. No: 19/02519/FUL 

——

Acomb Flooring Company Limited 53A Front Street York YO24 3BR

Change of use from retail (A1) to Pilates studio (D2)

Ref. No: 19/02488/FUL 

——-

Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning on line web site.  http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

NB The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received

Building work starting at Lowfields

Building work has started on the controversial Lowfield housing development.

The houses are being built on a playing field without any accessible alternative facility being made available by the York Council.

It has also been revealed that Yorspace has still not completed the purchase of the “communal housing” development site which is located near little Tudor Road.

The purchase from the Council was due to take place in September according to an EIR/FOI response (ref. IGF/16163) published by the York Council in August. There had been some controversy over the sale, as the purchase price agreed by the Council (£300,000) was pitched at a level well below the amount being asked for other building land in the same area.

Despite this, officials say that the sale is still “with solicitors”.

NB. The Council owned access to the site from little Tudor Road is currently blocked by what appears to be an abandoned mini bus.

Still no profits at Spark

The Council has confirmed that the promised profit share on the Spark container village development on Piccadilly has still not materialised.

Spark York

Payments should have been made at the end of the last financial year.

Only one single “rent” payment of £13,333.33 has been received by the Council.

In their original pitch to the Council in 2016, the operators promised a share of the profits on the project which were expected to more than cover the £40,000 costs of the Council providing mains services to the site.

No explanation for the failure to make a payment has been published nor is there any item on the Council forward decision-making programme which would suggest when an explanation may be forthcoming.

It is estimated that, had the site simply been used for car parking, the Council would have received around £200,000 in income over the last 3 years.

The containers are due to be removed in June 2020 although the Council has been very slow to market the availability of the site for permanent redevelopment.

There have been ongoing problems on the site with several planning conditions not being observed.

Over £4000 in Business Rate payments are also owed to the Council.

Business rates at Spark FOI Reef IGF/13909

NB. Under EU regulations, which are still expected to apply after 31st January 2020, government bodies are specifically prohibited from subsidising private companies.