A Council meeting next week (14th June) will receive an update on plans to replace the Castle car park with an events space.
Contrary to expectations, most of the area would continue to be hard-surfaced. There is provision for a Pagoda style shelter. The useable space is rather less than can be found on the other side of the road in Tower Gardens.
More extensive changes are planned for the Eye of York – which would effectively become become “the rectangle of York” with space being made available for outdoor museum exhibitions.
The report recommends that “the new public realm at the Castle and Eye of York forms part of the council’s funding bid to central government’s Levelling Up Fund, applications for which close on 18 June 2021″.
The new apartments being built at Castle Mills can’t be occupied before the Castle car park is closed according to a (frankly perverse) planning condition. The Castle car park can’t close until replacement parking has been provided. The Planning Committee has so far refused to approve the provision of a replacement car park.
We expect central government to start reducing its capital spending and borrowing shortly. We doubt whether “nice to have” schemes will get priority over essential infrastructure investment..
No updated business plan is being presented to the meeting next week.
NB. The Council has made no progress on the £5.9 million scheme to redevelop the site currently occupied by “Spark”. They are under pressure to sell the site and use the receipt to avoid unnecessary borrowing which otherwise would be necessary to fund the Castle Mills/car park part of the project.
The new “White Rose” football pavilion and associated pitches have now been completed. They can’t be brought into use until agreed improvements on the adjacent cycle path – which is a York Council maintenance responsibility – are also completed.
The cycle path upgrade was a condition of the planning approval given on 16th November 2018. (click)
Elsewhere we are waiting to hear whether SUSTRANs was successful in its grant application to the government for funding to resurface the track near Riccall and the A64.
Work on filling and levelling the Escrick sidings site appears to be proceeding more quickly now.
York Minster is inviting members of the public to comment on design proposals for a new refectory and public open space on the site of the former Minster School.
Sustainability, biodiversity and well-being are at heart of the proposals. The plans include a sympathetic renovation of the Grade II listed building at number 2 Deangate to create the York Minster Refectory. The conversion will see the full restoration of the building, including cleaning and repairs to the stonework to reveal previously hidden architectural features. The proposals include important new elements such as the creation of disabled access throughout the building and the installation of solar panels – the first anywhere in the Precinct. Once the permissions for the restoration and conversion of the building have been secured, the Minster will look to partner with a commercial operator to run the refectory on a rental basis.
The hard landscaping will be completely remodelled to make the area accessible and inclusive for the widest possible range of users. The design will link the refectory and the public space, both physically and visually, to the glorious views of the Minster’s South Transept and Quire.
Historic photographs of the front of the school, reveal evidence of extensive planting along the side of the Minster’s Stoneyard and this has been influential in the emerging proposals for the new public space. It will be specifically planned and designed to increase biodiversity in the heart of the city. Plants will be selected for their sensory and healing properties and to provide food for pollinators and habitats for wildlife.
The project is the first to emerge from the York Minster Neighbourhood Plan (YMNP), the community-led planning document which considered how the Minster Precinct will need to evolve to meet the changing needs of its community and visitors up to 2035.
The process of developing a masterplan for the future care of York Minster and its Precinct began in May 2018. Three subsequent public consultations were critical to the development of the draft Neighbourhood Plan with almost 700 comments received over 32 weeks of consultation. The Plan was updated and revised earlier this year, to incorporate the former school estate following its closure last July. A final period of public consultation was held in December 2020 and the Plan was finally submitted to City of York Council in April 2021. Once adopted, it will form part of City of York Council’s planning policy.
Commenting on the proposals, the Dean of York, the Right Revd Dr Jonathan Frost said that dynamic partnership working with the Neighbourhood Forum, local residents and businesses since 2018, has been vital at every stage of the York Minster Neighbourhood Plan. Dean Jonathan said: “The realisation of this first set of project proposals is the result of three years of collaborative community effort and a strong, shared sense of realism about the solutions that will be needed to make the York Minster Precinct viable and sustainable to 2035 and well beyond that date.
“The proposals for this refectory and the public space adjacent to it, respect the Minster and its history and its purpose as a place of worship and welcome. The plans are highly creative and innovative and aim to breathe new life into the building and open spaces in a way that is inclusive, sustainable, economically viable and, which meets the needs of York residents and our visitors.
“I want to encourage as many people as possible to comment on the proposals and help us to make the best decisions for the future of this special corner of the York Minster Precinct.”
The proposals will also be displayed on boards outside the Minster School from Friday 21st May until Sunday 13th June. However due to ongoing pandemic restrictions, comments on the consultation can only be made online and should be emailed to Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precinctalexm@yorkminster.org
The Council has agreed that English Heritage can use part of the Castle Car Park as a building compound over then next few months.
The decision comes as a £4.7 million contract starts which will see external works to Clifford’s Tower including improvements to handrails for existing access stair up the motte, introduction of resting places to the sides of the stairs, internal works within the Tower to include the installation of new staircase, tower floor, walkways, balustrade, plaza and roof deck.
£900K will be spent on the public realm.
English Heritage still plan on providing a hard landscaped plaza with street furniture, in front of the steps leading to the Tower. This would result in the loss of 5 car parking spaces.
A small Piaggio vehicle will be parked there and used as a ticket and information guide point,
“In October 2020 the council’s Executive approved the delivery strategy for the Castle Gateway regeneration. As part of this decision, approval was granted to undertake a procurement exercise to appoint a construction contractor to build Castle Mills on a two stage tender process.
The first stage of the process is to secure a construction contractor to develop the current RIBA Stage 3 design prepared by BDP to RIBA Stage 4 on Pre-Construction Service Contract Agreement (PSCA) and provide a tender price for undertaking the construction based on that stage 4 design.
The Council received three strong bids following an invite to tender through an open market process, which were assessed and scored on both price and quality, with Wates being the successful bidder. The council will now enter in to the PSCA stage of the contract”.
The officials concerned are keen to point out that the decision does not commit the Council to proceeding with the whole of the Castle Gateway scheme which has been costed at £55 million.
Of this, current plans are for the Council to borrow £45 million.
A decision on the redevelopment of Beverley House on Shipton Road is due to be made next week.
It will be a landmark meeting as it marks the restart of face-to-face committee meetings at the York Authority.
Overall the proposal will provide: 1 x 3 bed apartment, 15 x 2 bed apartments and 5 x 1 bed apartments. The proposal is for senior living.
18 car parking spaces will be provided to the front, with two being mobility parking spaces. 22 secure cycle parking spaces
Beverley House was last used as offices by the Local Government Ombudsman. Previously it had been a Rowntree Trust building.
It has been empty since 2015,
The development may therefore be one of the first to benefit from the governments new “Vacant Building Credit” (VBC) , The VBC applies a financial credit equivalent to the existing gross floorspace of relevant vacant buildings when the Planning Authority calculates any affordable housing contribution which will be sought.
The VBG has the effect of reducing the affordable house requirement to a commuted sum of £206,579.
The VBC was intended to encourage the conversion of unoccupied property for residential use.
The meeting takes place on Thursday 13th May. Details of health safeguards can be found on theagenda papers.
We’re not entirely convinced that the Councils “Castle Gateway” plans, which would see the car park grassed over, are quite as urgent as some might wish residents to believe.
The economic impact of losing so many conveniently located car parking spaces has never been properly evaluated (whether a replacement multi storey is built on St Georges Field or not).
Any assumptions made were clearly pre pandemic. Some reassessment is surely needed before millions more of taxpayers money is committed.
The Council have, however, now published a schematic which shows what some apparently want to see done in the area.
The Council has issued the following media release
City of York Council has shared the emerging plans for new public space in one of York’s most historic and important areas – and wants residents to keep shaping the proposals.
The draft sketch from designers BDP imagines how the area could meet residents ambitions for the public space to replace Castle Car Park, while still meeting the current and future needs of the museum, the courts and the Coppergate Centre.
It shows how people could move around, a mix of soft and hard surfaces, a location for events, how to open up the river Foss, and how water and family-friendly play spaces can be created.
The council has worked with local partners My Future York to put residents’ views at the heart of plans to transform the car park, Eye of York and the wider area.
The extensive My Castle Gateway engagement has provided a public brief for the community space and connected residents to the designers BDP as they bring those ideas to life. Anyone can catch up with the story so far in this blog on the My Castle Gateway website.
This feedback will then allow detailed proposals and options to be developed and shared with the public through the spring, with a planning application to be submitted in the summer.
Residents are invited to join the conversation on social media or through the next phase of My Castle Gateway events. Visit the blog and get involved onTwitter and Facebook.
The My Castle Gateway public engagement has already led to bold plans being put forward to transform the area, including creating community and business space on Piccadilly, new walkways and cycle-routes, and a bridge over the Foss.
The public realm work is moving ahead after the council secured planning permission for a multi-storey car park and public space on St George’s Field, and a residential development and pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Foss at Castle Mills.
The council is committed to providing parking to replace the closure of Castle Car Park, and will retain Blue Badge parking on Tower Street. Work has been delayed on the multi-storey car park in order to better understand the impact of COVID and carry out further engagement with blue badge holders within the development of the Local Transport Plan.
Councillor Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Finance and Performance, said:
We want the Castle area to be a place all our residents love to spend time, to interpret its history and make fantastic memories.
“Our commitment to quality public engagement has allowed us to deliver where decades of other proposals failed.
“These are ideas in response to what residents have told us. And they ask even more important questions, like whether the mix of uses is right, and whether the Eye of York should stay as it is or become an open air museum or exhibition space?
“We want residents to help answer those questions so please take a look and get involved in the conversation.”