Petition calls for Kingsway area road improvements

Andrew Waller who is backing the petition

A petition has been handed to the York Council demanding that roads in the Kingsway West/Ascot Way area be improved before there is any additional development in the area.

At the moment the only access to the estate – which contains over 600 homes – is via the section of Kingsway West lying between Danesfort Avenue and Ascot Way.

Residents point to congestion problems for buses, emergency vehicles, bin wagons and delivery lorries.

The numbers of off-street parking spaces has been criticised. Residents feel this will get worse following a decision to demolish garages on Newbury Avenue.

The petition was prompted by an announcement that the Lincoln Court sheltered housing building would be expanded. In addition, the adjacent Windsor Hose site will become a centre of excellence for disabled children.

The principal route into both  these developments would be along Kingsway West and Ascot Way.

Campaigners have called for a service road access to be created from the adjacent Hob Moor Oaks school site where many of the disabled children spend their school hours.

The future of the Multi User Games Area (MUGA) on Kingsway West is also under threat as officials are understood have targeted it for use as a building compound

The petition reads;

“We the undersigned request the York Council to undertake the following improvements prior to any further building work starting in the Hob Moor area

  1. Improve the access road along Kingsway West/Ascot Way, removing, where necessary, the grass verge
  2. Provide dropped kerbs or lay-by parking where this doesn’t already exist
  3. Provide alternative, modern, children’s play facilities before any existing provision is removed”.

The petition is being backed by local Councillor Andrew Waller.

The planning applications are expected to be considered by the Council at a Planning Sub Committee  meeting taking place on 6th December starting at 4:30pm

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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21 Stirrup Close York YO24 3LU

Conditions 3,4 & 5 of permitted application 17/01453/FUL

Ref. No: AOD/18/00322 

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1 Raynard Court York YO24 3GA

Two storey side extension and single storey rear extension.

Ref. No: 18/01932/FUL 

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214 Thoresby Road York YO24 3ER

Installation of satellite dish to rear.

Ref. No: 18/01803/FUL 

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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 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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The Greengrocer 63 York Road Acomb York YO24 4LN

Proposal      Conditions 3,4 and 6 of 18/00708/FUL

Reference   AOD/18/00307

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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

Spark still to submit planning appeal on cladding

Freedom of Information response confirms no rent or rates paid

Spark was closed yesterday

Despite receiving a decision notice which required the company to implement the original planning condition which included providing cladding on the outside of the containers on Piccadilly, Spark still haven’t started work.

The decision notice was issued on 21st August, over 2 months ago.

Spark were publicly quoted as saying that they would “appeal” to the Secretary of State against the Councils decision. They haven’t done so yet and indeed it could be another 4 months before they have to register an appeal.  Even then Planning Inspectors could take several months to determine the case. That might be close to the May 2020 end of their lease for the site.

The Council says, “It is the view of planning officers that it would be inappropriate and unreasonable for the planning authority to attempt to take planning enforcement action whilst they exercise their right to challenge the Council’s decision”.

Their position ignores the fact that the developers have been in breach of the planning conditions for over 6 months now and that they have failed to record an appeal against the August planning refusal.

With containers having been in place since September 2017, that would mean that the ugly frontage would potentially have been on public view for over 2 years.

A Freedom of Information response (ref: IGF/10492) has confirmed that Spark have not yet paid any rent or rates on their development. The rates issue is blamed on delays in the Valuation Office who have yet to respond to a valuation request issued to them in May 2018.

Developers call “foul”

It appears that the Council issued a contract to Spark which didn’t require any rent payments to be made until March 2019.  It is unclear whether the council collects rent 12 months in arrears on the other properties that it rents in the City (Council house tenants pay rent fortnightly).

The FOI does confirm that building control agreement hasn’t been issued

The original building regulation application was approved at the site, however this has subsequently been amended to incorporate roof cover which is currently being assessed. As soon as this is complete a Completion Certificate will be issued for the site”.

Perhaps not surprisingly other developers in the City are now crying “foul” and are claiming that there is no longer a level playing field.

Spark- FOI reveals email exchanges on planning, cladding and loans

The York Council has shed some light on what they told the Spark developers in the spring of this year.

Copies of Email exchanges have now been published on the “What do they know” web site. Click for details

As early as last April, York council officials knew that the developer was intending not to provide cladding on the external face of the containers. This would have breached planning conditions.

Spark was advised that they had to apply for a variation to the planning permission.

This they subsequently did but the application was refused.

Spark have since said that they will appeal against the refusal.

It also appears that the Council was aware that Spark were borrowing significant sums of money to fund the £500,000 set up costs for the development. It is unclear from the exchange whether the Council’s position as the land owner and preferential creditor was, and remains, fully indemnified. 

At a meeting held in April, Spark were seeking an extension to the “June 2020 end date” for their lease. They were told that this was not possible, although one official hinted “if the venture is well supported and doing well then they (sic) maybe opportunities”.

Another Spark tenant (“Once across the Garden”) announced this week that they are moving from Spark.

NB. Spark started trading in May 2017 having, by then, been on site for over 6 months.

 

 

Prime York city centre redevelopment site still unused

The former Willow House elderly persons home on Long Close Lane, next to the Bar Walls, is still empty. The buildings, which are in reasonable condition, were abandoned by the Council in early 2017.

The site was slated for use as student flats following a successful planning application in October last year.

The site was then  subject to a wrangle about the use of, and continued access to, adjacent green space.

The security fencing makes a poor backdrop for the many visitors who walk along the adjacent walls.

Further down Long Moor Lane, highway officials have allowed  bushes  to completely block the public footpath; adding to the general impression of neglect in the area.

Willow House stands abandoned with no sign of redevelopment work starting.

Hedges completely block public footpath

£100 to park your car. Expensive neighbourhood

Containergate rumbles on – planning appeal lodged

Spark, the operator of the shipping container “village on Piccadilly, are to appeal against the Councils decision to require them to clad the front of the containers. Spark offered the cladding when they originally sought planning permission but later changed their minds and painted “street art” on some of the containers on the Piccadilly frontage.

In May they sought retrospective planning permission for the change, but this was turned down by the Planning Committee in August. They have now appealed against that decision with the Planning Inspectorate likely to take several months to take a view. It is understood that the Council has decided not to take enforcement action in the interim

The Piccadilly site is owned by the Council, which has spent around £60,000 installing services and subsiding improvements.

The company had originally claimed they could not afford the cladding, but they have now written to prominent Councillors saying that their tenants have taken “£1.2 million” since opening, “more than twice the original forecast”.

That may be good news for taxpayers, as the Council is set to get a share of the “profits” …..but there will be no share out before April 2019 at the earliest.

It has emerged that Sparks have not yet paid any rent. They have had beneficial occupation of the site since the beginning of September 2017.

The Council have been asked to confirm that Business Rate payments are up to date.

Spark have applied for planning permission to fit a “roof” on the site.

At the same time, they have announced that they will open for only 5 days a week (closing on Tuesday and Wednesday from later this month).

There are conflicting reports about the number of small businesses which are being sustained on the site. Some have not been able to make a go of the site, with one blaming the drink culture for scaring away family customers. 3 complaints about external noise levels have been received by the Council.

Spark however claims that, of the 21 letting units, all but two are taken: 9 food, 4 drink and 6 retail outlets.

Depends whether you believe the spin, but clearly the alcohol-based units businesses got a summer boost from the World Cup and hot weather.

The lift, which will allow the village to meet disabled accessibility standards, will be operational this week according to Spark. They have, however, been unable to secure insurance which would indemnify the Council in the event of a business failure.

Council officials are content to rely on the resale value of the containers to secure taxpayers’ interests. Many of the containers have been refashioned to meet the specific needs of the Piccadilly site.

The approach taken by York Councillors, to the claims made before agreeing to lease the land to Spark, can still be viewed “on line”. The meeting which took place in November 2016 can be seen by clicking here Agenda Item 73 

Green spaces – now government says they are important

Children’s ball games facility threatened

Not often that we agree with the Daily Mail and government Ministers but they’ve got this right.

 Click 

Communities need open spaces, outdoor sports facilities, green parks and amenity areas.

The York Council has a lamentable recent record in the Westfield area at least.

  • Our Lady’s school playing field – Gone
  • Lowfields sportsfield – Going
  • Acomb Bowling Green – Doomed
  • Kingsway kickabout area – Condemned
  • Hob Moor school playing field – Shrinking

….and that in the ward with the largest proportion of obese children in the City and the lowest life expectancy.

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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Windsor House 22 Ascot Way York YO24 4QZ

Erection of sub-station and associated parking.

Ref. No: 18/02177/FUL 

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71 Green Lane Acomb York YO24 3DJ

Conditions 5 and 6 of 17/02293/FUL

Ref. No: AOD/18/00298 

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126 Wetherby Road Acomb York YO26 5BY

Single storey rear extension.

Ref. No: 18/01906/FUL 

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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

Another strange decision by York planners as local bowling club doomed

Land near Acomb Library which could be improved.

York planning Councillors decided yesterday to permit the development of the Acomb Bowling Club

The applicants claimed that there were no longer enough people interested in bowling in York to sustain the green.

Ironically the Planning sub committee then went on the insist that the developers pay the York RI bowling club £20,000 to expand their greens. Why such an expansion should be necessary when many bowling clubs already have spare membership places remains a mystery.

The RI site is a mile away from Front Street and lies in the Holgate ward,. The opportunity to invest the £20,000 from the S106 contribution in green space in the Westfield ward has been lost.

Planning Councillors should have insisted that the payment be retained and earmarked for the improvement of the old allotments site (behind the Library car park) which would at least have secured the future of some green space in the Front Street area.

Council officials have also claimed that no discussions about the expansion of the library (onto the Council owned land nearby) have taken place “since it was acquired in 2008”. Ten years ago officials in the council’s estates department were instructed to acquire the bowling green and the allotments site at the same time. They failed to do so and the bowling club limped on for a few more years.

The Bowling Club trustees have yet tor reveal what will happen to the substantial receipt they will receive from the sale of the green.

Westfield residents will now get the worst of all worlds. A sports facility is being lost. Another green space is being built on, an opportunity to provide a small “pocket” park has gone  and the need for an expanded library – incorporating a “one stop shop” – seems further away than ever.

Another bad day for west York