Spark appeals against planning decision

Spark April 2018

It seems that the Spark organisation has submitted a last-minute appeal against the Council’s decision not to allow them to keep the Street Art/Graffiti on their Piccadilly frontage. They had hoped that the Council would not enforce the planning condition which requires them to install wood cladding on the outside of the shipping containers.

In August they lost their planning application to revise the conditions governing their use of the site.

Any appeal could take months to resolve, so it may now be down to the Council, as the landlord, to act to remedy the defect. The Council will be expecting a major payment from the business over the next few weeks.

The Spark lease runs out in June 2020.

York Council got housing demand figures badly wrong

International migration forecast shows substantial reduction

The Council has finally released a consultants report into future house building requirements in the City. It is based on the latest 2016 population forecast produced by the Office of National Statistics

It shows a spectacular reduction on previous forecasts.

The report will be discussed by a Council working group next week, although the new figures have already been forwarded to planning inspectors.

In 2011 a LibDem Council had agreed an annual growth rate of 575 homes.

This was increased to a, wildly unsustainable, 1100 homes by an incoming Labour administration.

An incoming coalition administration in 2015 finally came up with a figure of 867 dwellings a year.

All have proved to be wildly inaccurate.

Unfortunately several green field sites have been lost already because of the muddle. The actual demand could have been catered for comfortably on brownfield (previously developed) sites

The new figures indicate that an additional 470 homes a year will be required in the period up to 2037. A high growth economy could increase this to 590 homes a year.

.. and that is the figure that some commentators have been advocating for the last 8 years and more.

Unfortunately old habits die hard, and the consultants say that, to deflate house prices (and values), a supply of 790 homes a year is required.

Forecast York housing growth figures Feb 2019

New Acomb Wood Drive restaurant status clarified

The planning department have confirmed that the new – and now operational –  Buongiorno cafe and restaurant on Acomb Wood Drive has the necessary planning permission. The was confusion  in November when a “change of use” planning application was withdrawn.

It turns out that the Council advised the owner that a “change of use” planning permission was not necessary as the existing take away permission also covered the use of the premises as a cafe.

“Change of use” would only be required if there were proposed alterations to the shop front, display of advertisements, or the installation of any external flues.

We wish the new business every success.

Lowfields residents update newsletter. Parking plan criticised as inadequate

The Lowfield Residents Group have criticised the Councils plan to provide only 2 alternative off street spaces to replace a parking lay-by on Tudor Road.  They are circulating a newsletter to affected residents (see below)

The existing 4 space lay-by will be lost when the Council, starts work on providing a new access road into the Lowfield site.

Part of the garden of an adjacent flat block (108 Tudor Road) is being used to provide 4 spaces but residents point out that Tudor Road, along with the adjacent Gale Lane, has on street parking restrictions.

This means that the Tudor Road bays are heavily used.  Occasionally drivers park on the garage forecourt opposite causing an obstruction.

More parking spaces are required.

At the other end of Tudor Road (low numbered) a communal housing experiment will see only 12 parking spaces provided for 19 properties. Some of the properties have 4 bedrooms. The occupants of similar properties elsewhere often have 2 or 3 cars.

All in all, we don’t think that the Council has got its transport and parking policies for the development right yet.

Ironically The Press is today running a story saying that life expectancy in the Westfield Ward is the lowest of any in the City.

We’ve pointed out to the Council that its relentless attack on open space and sports provision in the area is partly to blame.

Loss of the football pitch at Lowfields  is a major factor as is the threat to the bowling green on Front Street, the erosion of the Hob Moor playing field and the loss of the Kingsway all weather games area.

The playing field associated with Our Lady’s school has, of course, already been built on.

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

Conditions 15 and 22 of 17/02428/FULM.

These relate to plans to remove trees from the site and break up hard surfaces

Ref. No: AOD/19/00033

——

108 Tudor Road York YO24 3AZ

Construction of 2 parking spaces to rear served by new vehicular access from Tudor Road

This is also connected with the Lowfields development. It involves the provision of 2 new parking spaces to the rear of the flats. The spaces in the parking layby on Tudor Road will be lost when the new site access road is constructed.  The access road will be used by construction traffic

Ref. No: 19/00128/GRG3 

NB. These applications may be subject to objections from the Save Lowfields Playing Field Action Group. They have a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LowfieldsActionGroup/ on which local residents can make comments. There are currently 5 detailed planning applications/condition approvals for Lowfields which are awaiting determination


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/

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

New chance to learn more about Council plans for Lowfields as meeting date announced

Following a false star last week, when an information drop in session was poorly attended because of inadequate publicity, a new date has been set.

A drop in will take place on Tuesday 5 March between 4:00pm and 7:00pm at the Gateway Centre on Front Street. Local residents are invited to attend.

The Lowfields Residents Action Group have also published the Councils responses to a series of questions that they posed about construction plans.

The response reveals that initially all construction traffic will enter via Dijon Avenue. This may also have implications for those residents living in Lowfields Drive and Gale Lane who may live on the access route.

The Action Group are appealing for help in distributing leaflets in the area warning residents about the impending building work.

York Council reply to residents concerns 15th February 2019

 

Deadline day approaching for Spark container village

Rates, rent and profit share payments due in the next few days.

Spark April 2018

The valuation office has completed its assessment of the rateable value of the Spark container village on Piccadilly.

Figures published on their web site suggest a total valuation of £138,730.

In the normal course of events this would bring around £65,000 into the City’s coffers helping to offset the additional costs of street cleaning, refuse collection, policing etc. associated with developments of this sort.

Increases in rateable value these days bring an immediate boost for Council finances under rate retention schemes (The Council’s rate support grant has consequently been reduced to zero this year).

But will there be a boost in this case?

Valuations were apparently requested on a per container basis. This means that none of the 25 units has a rateable value of more than £12,000.

Rating list

Government regulations on rate relief for small businesses say “You will not pay business rates on a property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less”.

So, unless an occupier has a second business property elsewhere, then they may not pay any rates at all.

Empty properties are exempt from Business Rates for 3 months.

Some of the alcohol selling units on the site are said to be highly profitable. No doubt other traders operating nearby will question whether this is fair competition.

York Council officials are staying tight lipped about whether they anticipated this development.

The original Spark business pitch to the Council talked about a £71,000 profit each year. Part of this was to be used to repay the Council’s initial investment in new utility infrastructure. The first payment toward paying off this debt is due in a little over 6 weeks’ time, together with the Council’s share of what Spark claim is a “£1.5 million profit”

NB In August 2018 the Council refused a planning application from Spark to omit the wooden cladding for the containers which they had suggested as part of the original application.

Spark is currently closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Spark list only 4 retailers who currently operate from the containers. There are also 7 food and drink outlets

Some good news as Council acts on dangerous plant found at Lowfields

Japanese Knotweed

A planning application, which would see a patch of Japanese Giant Knotweed removed from the Lowfields playing field, has been submitted.

Specialists will remove the invasive plant from a section on the west of the site.

The reason it can cause a threat is because it grows so rapidly. Each plant can grow up to an inch a day and has the ability to mature rapidly across a large surface area.

As it grows so quickly it can actually cause a lot of structural damage. It can cause damage to tarmac and concrete, increase erosion, damage retaining walls, damage building foundations and block drainage pipes.

The planning application can be found by clicking here. It is work that would need to be undertaken even if redevelopment were not to take place.

Location of Hogweed on Lowfields site plan

More on Lowfield plans – public “drop in” tomorrow

The Council says that it will hold a public “drop in” at Acomb Explore Library between 4:30pm and 7:00pm tomorrow (Thursday 7th February) to react to criticisms of its plans to start work on the Lowfields school development later in the month.

The scheduled work involves felling trees and removing hard surfaces.

Some residents commenting on the “Save Lowfield Playing Field” Facebook page say that they have not received notification of the event. Others say that a limited hours, mid-week, event prevents shift workers from attending

The letters that the Council say that they have delivered are reproduced below.

The plan to schedule tree felling works during February is surprising as the planning condition covering this work has not yet been approved.

Residents have until the middle of the month to record their objections with the expectation that local Councillors will “call in” the proposal for consideration by a planning committee. Details of the planning conditions application can be found via this link.  

Objections should be sent by Email to planning.comments@york.gov.uk quoting ref AOD/19/00001

Residents have commented that there are a lot of questions to be answered about the site preparation work, which is scheduled to be completed by May.

These include

  • working hours,
  • noise,
  • access routes for heavy lorries and
  • contractor parking arrangements.

The Action Group says that it expects the findings of an Ombudsman’s enquiry into allegations, that the Council misled residents and Sport England over their plans, is due to be published this week.

The Action Group may also be giving evidence to the Local Plan public inquiry which is due to start shortly

Trees to be felled shown in red

Housing by type and tenure

Lincoln Court and the MUGA – Sport England acts

Kingsway MUGA

Sport England have issued a formal objection to the Council’s latest plans for the Lincoln Court area. As a statutory consultee they can veto any proposals which involve the loss of sports facilities. In this case, the Councils plan to demolish the adjacent Multi User Games Area (MUGA) – without providing a replacement – has triggered the objection.

Sport England had expressed concerns about Councils plans prior to the Planning Committee meeting which took place in December. Their comments at that time were ignored by Councillors.

If the Council continues to turn a blind eye to the objection, then the planning application will have to be referred to the Secretary of State for determination.

Sport England make it clear, in their representation, that they believe an alternative games facility can be provided nearby. Residents have suggested the new school playing fields or the Thanet Road sports area as possible locations.

Several of the flats at Lincoln Court are now empty.

There is a growing concern that the building, and the adjacent Windsor House, may be empty for an extended period.

Similar Council owned buildings have been left to rot in recent years (Guildhall, Ashbank, Oakhaven, Castlegate, etc.) suggesting that the Councils property management processes need to be overhauled.

In the meantime the planning application remains open for residents to record any objections that they may have.  Email planning.comments@york.gov.uk quoting ref 19/00083/FULM