Planning appeal decision goes against Spark container village

A Planning Inspector has rejected an appeal regarding the Spark container village on Piccadilly.

The owners of the units were hoping to avoid installing wooden cladding on the outside of the shipping containers as was required by the original planning consent granted in May 2017.

In August 2018 the Councils planning committee refused to remove the requirement for the containers to be clad in timber panelling. They concluded that the industrial style containers had an adverse impact on the appearance of the Central Conservation Area.

Spark appealed against this decision.

The appellants claimed that “that the financial implications of the approved installation would be prohibitive and would put the entire project at risk”.

However, the Inspector said that the costs of the cladding would have been known from the start.

The Inspector concluded “I find that no public benefits have been demonstrated that would outweigh the harm and there is no clear and convincing justification for the variation of the condition”.

Despite much prevarication, the controversial Spark project now seems to have reached the end of the road. Their lease expires next July anyway, and the Council will be eager to market the site for a more sustainable use.

The site is likely to be worth over a million pounds – money that the Council desperately needs to sustain the rest of its capital investment programme. The most viable use would be for a visitor attraction on the ground floor with either flats, offices or a hotel above.

The Council will also be expected to reveal how much their share of the “profits” on the development have actually been received.

The profit share arrangement was a key consideration when the Councils Executive agreed to release the site at their meeting in November 2016. The taxpayers investment of over £40,000 in infrastructure was to have been repaid from these “profits”.

The shipping containers arrived on site in September 2017. They were widely regarded as “ugly” with street art graffiti on the Piccadilly frontage making the appearance even worse. The containers blight the Piccadilly area which is otherwise seeing signs of regeneration. Three new developments are currently underway on the opposite side of the road and a “Castle Gateway” masterplan is in the process of being approved.

The shipping containers arrived in September 2017

We think that Spark have been playing the Council along for many months.

The issue will be a major test of the effectiveness of the newly elected York Council. They must seek to quickly enforce the planning conditions on the site, while also recovering any outstanding debts.

They would also be wise to start marketing the site for future development.

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

Non-material amendment to application 18/01467/GRG3 – Reduction of building size – Alterations to building elevations – Changing main roof type to grey single ply membrane from a metal standing seam. – Change gutter detail to some of the single storey eaves – Replace rounded corners with squared corners – Reduction in pitch of the single storey roofs – Reduction in depths to Activity Room window brick and the addition of a pressed metal window surround. 

Ref. No: 19/01198/NONMAT 

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7 Bachelor Hill York YO24 3BD

Installation of access ramp to front 

Ref. No: 19/01154/FUL 

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48 Wetherby Road Acomb York YO26 5BY

Two storey side and single storey rear extension (resubmission). 

Ref. No: 19/00998/FUL 

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Thomas Of York Ltd 55 – 57 York Road Acomb York YO24 4LN

Display of 2 no. non-illuminated projecting signs, 4 no. illuminated fascia signs, and 4 no. non illuminated vinyl graphics to the windows

Ref. No: 19/01096/ADV 

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Watermeadows Ltd 19 York Road Acomb York YO24 4LW

Proposal              Condition 3 of 18/01730/FUL (Conversion and extension of apartment and commercial premises into 5no. apartments with office space (class B1) to include one and two storey rear extension and railings to front).

Reference           AOD/19/00204

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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

£1.5 million cost for 3 football pitches

£850,000 to come from Lowfields project

The York Council courted controversy 2 years ago when it announced that the “replacement” football pitches – for those lost to the Lowfields development – would be provided on a site lying between Tadcaster Road and Bishopthorpe.

Playing fields at Lowfields have been dug up

The site is nearly 3 miles from Lowfield and does not have a direct public transport link.

In December 2017, the Councils Executive approved a £400,000 contribution from the Lowfields budget towards the Bishopthorpe plan. The project will provide a new home for the Bishopthorpe White Rose Football Club.

The new pitches must be ready before the new homes, being built at Lowfields, are occupied. Work on building the homes is due to start in August with road and some other infrastructure already in place.

Now a report to a meeting taking place next week reveals that the Council is to make a substantially greater contribution to the pitch project than has hitherto been admitted.

The Council will now, additionally, contribute £110,000 from Section 106 developer payments intended to provide alternative open space.

 A further £300,000 will come from a “Lowfields developer contribution”.  (The Council is, of course, the developer at Lowfields).

In total, therefore, the Council plans to spend around £850,000 on the scheme which, although it includes a clubhouse, now looks to be a very expensive way of providing 3 football pitches.

The Bishopthorpe football club itself will contribute £80,000, with the balance of £1/2 million coming from the Football Foundation.

Residents are bound to be angry about this latest example of Council duplicity. 

There is land available much nearer Lowfields which would benefit from open space investment. There is, for example, under-used land located between the built-up area and the ring road off Askham Lane.

…But this seems to have been overlooked as the local authority continues to snub the Westfield area.

NB. It also appears that Council officials have made no progress in finding an alternative location for the Kingsway games area. That facility is now being used as a building compound. The Council agreed 3 months ago to seek an alternative site on a nearby sports area and was to have opened negotiations with the current occupiers. Little progress seems to have been made

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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189 Kingsway West York YO24 4QD

Erection of single storey extension extending 4 metres beyond rear wall of the original house, with a height to the eaves of 2.67 metres and a total height of 3.57 metres. 

Ref. No: 19/01127/LHE 

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4 Croftside York YO26 5LT

Single storey rear extension and rear dormer. 

Ref. No: 19/00980/FUL 

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Dryfix Preservation Ltd The Yard Tudor Road York YO24 3AY

Change of use from electrical storage only (Use Class B8) to unrestricted storage, open air storage and distribution (Use Class B8)

Ref. No: 19/00966/FUL 

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94 Wetherby Road Acomb York YO26 5BY

Single storey rear extension 

Ref. No: 19/00867/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

Work starts on Burnholme elderly persons accommodation

Work has stared on building a new 80 bed care home at the Burnholme site.

When completed, the Council will have the right to fill 25 of the beds

A lot of building work going on at Burnholme

Work is also proceeding on renovating sports facilities on the Burnholme site. A new library complex has already opened.

The care home being built on the Fordlands Road site (by Octopus Health care) will be completed in the summer of 2020. A site for another home has been reserved in the new York Central development.

The progress being made on these sites contrasts with other projects aimed at addressing the needs of the City’s increasing elderly population on the west of the City.

Tenders are only now being sought for the long awaited elderly persons facility on the Lowfields site. Other specialist homes on the west of the City, such as Windsor House and Lincoln Court have already been cleared of their elderly occupants.

One embarrassment for the Council, is the elderly persons home at Oakhaven. Residents were controversially moved from this building 3 years ago.

Despite some temporary uses, the building has remained largely unused ever since.

The Council has not been able to say when work on a replacement will start.

The Council says that it will start building houses at Lowfield this summer. Many will be “shared ownership” although there seems to have been little research done on the size of the market – among those on the waiting list – for this type of tenure.

There is, however, a lot of demand from older people – currently occupying large council and housing association houses – who want to “downsize” to bungalows or flats.

Work has started on constructing the Tudor Road access onto the Lowfields site. A new lay-by has been provided nearby.

While we remain critical of the Councils plan to build on the playing field at Lowfield, it also now seems that they may have got the mix of home types wrong.

There should have been more bungalows.

The issue of the Yorspace” communal housing development – which is not classified as “affordable” – has also still not been resolved.

Call for compensation after Council confirms that it did not consult on building compound location

In response to a Freedom of Information request the York Council has now confirmed that it did not consult neighbours or local Councillors before issuing a license which allowed a building contractor to occupy the “old allotments” site at the rear of the library car park.

This site has been owned by the Council for over 15 years. The developers of the adjacent bowling Club land (which does have planning permission) had previously said that they did not want to combine the two sites to provide a abetter overall layout.

Work on the site disturbed residents living in South View Terrace and part of Lowfields Drive.

The first that residents knew of the arrangement, was when heavy plant moved onto the site and started to clear it. This prompted complaints about noise, dust and vibrations.

Spoil heap heights reached over 4 metres at one point.

Local fauna and flora on the site were badly affected.

The Council now says that it granted a license to occupy its land on 8th April. There was no consultation undertaken with neighbours.

Residents complained to the Council on 16th May about the problems being caused.

It wasn’t until 28th May that the Council wrote to affected neighbours telling them about the license.

The Council says that working hours on the compound are restricted to 8:00am – 6:00pm, Mon – Fri plus 9:00am – 1:00pm on Saturdays.

The Council says that “The compound licence requires the developer to leave the property in a clean and tidy condition at the end of the licence, including the removal of hardcore”.  

It goes on to say that it expects the compound to be in use for 12 months.

An investigation into whether the developers have the necessary planning permission to use the building compound is still underway.

In our view affected residents have suffered unexpected and unreasonable disruption and should be entitled to compensation.

It is possible that the matter may be referred to the Local Government Ombudsman

Cost of Ascot Way disabled centre soars by 37%

Council blames the “complexity” of the selected design for the increase.

A Council report published today reveals that the cost of the Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children will increase from the originally budgeted figure of £4.3 million (January 2018) to an estimated £5.9 million.

Demolition works have started at Windsor House

This comes after the Council, In April 2018, had agreed to increase the proportion of the costs which would be funded by borrowing

£1.1 million of the increased costs will come from a Health service grant with the rest being transferred from the education budget.

It appears that some features  of the building are being “value engineered” out of the design.

The centre is being built on the site of the Windsor House elderly persons home. The neighbouring Lincoln Court independent living building is also being modernised and extended at the same time.

While both projects have been welcomed, concerns have been expressed about traffic congestion and parking issues in the area.

The impact of the developments on open space and sports facilities in the neighbourhood have also been criticised.

Details of the new budget allocations are being kept secret by the Council. It is unclear what promised features in the building may now be omitted.

The meeting to consider the budget increase is taking place on 18th June.

York’s green spaces; going, going…

It is sad to see so many green spaces in the City being gradually eroded.

The reality of planning decisions, taken by the Council over the last few years, are rapidly becoming clearer. The trend is particularly evident in west York where former school playing field have proved to be vulnerable.

It started with the development of the playing field at the former Our Lady’s school site on Windsor Garth. The “Hob Stone” estate took up the whole of the site with no open space retained.

Next was the controversial decision to build on the Lowfields playing field. The decision was made worse when over £400,000, intended to fund alternative sports pitches, was earmarked for a site near Bishopthorpe, which is some 3 miles from Lowfields.

Concrete now dominates the Lowfields school playing field

The Hob Moor playing field has been torn up and is now part of a building site
The Acomb Bowling club and adjacent Council owned land on Front Street is now also a building site

There are alternative brownfield (previously developed) sites in the City. Strangely the local MP over the weekend announced her opposition to building 2500 homes on the land to the rear of the station while planners have omitted the Strensall army camp from Local Development Plans.

There seems to be little reason why a development at the latter could not be restricted to the “built footprint” of the former army buildings. This would still leave large amounts of new public open space. That option is under consideration as part of the latest consultation on the Local Plan

But for west York the outlook remains bleak. The Council is still dilly dallying on proposals to replace the Multi User Games Area on Kingsway West. The existing one is no longer usable as it is no part of a buildng compound.

…and the newly elected Council, despite lofty talk of having a new “stray” in the City, has noticeably failed to put any flesh on the bones of the idea. Prompt action is needed to secure more public open space on the periphery of the City.

Currently there is little sign of any urgency, or even engagement, by the occupants of West Offices.

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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Lincoln Court Ascot Way York YO24 4RA

Proposal      Conditions 4,7,8,16,17,19,20 & 21 of 19/00083/FULM

Reference   AOD/19/00165

NB. Refers to Condition 4 – Boundary Treatments. Proposed Site Plan Condition 7 – Slight amendments to car parking arrangements. Proposed Site Plan Condition 8 – Electric Car Charging Points. Proposed Site Plan Condition 16 & 17 – Bats & Contamination.

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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

Report casts light on life in Acomb since Roman times

An archaeology report, produced as part of the investigations into the bowling club development project on Front Street, has provided a further insight into the history of the village.

The report says that, “in February 2005 On-Site Archaeology carried out an archaeological evaluation on the disused allotments located immediately to the west of the current site. Within one of the evaluation trenches two small pits containing late 1st to mid 3rd century Roman pottery were recorded, cutting into the natural sand. A residual sherd of late 1st to early 2nd century pottery was recovered from a subsoil deposit in one of the other trenches”

The allotments land has now been bulldozed to form a building compound. No mitigation measures have been taken to preserve or record any archaeological remains on that site (which is owned by the York Council).

The report goes on to say, “There is no evidence of occupation during the Anglo-Saxon period although the name ‘Acomb’ is Anglo-Saxon in origin meaning “at the oaks”.

“The mediaeval period is when the village of Acomb took on a known form with the focus of the village being the area between The Green and Front Street. Acomb is listed in the Domesday survey of 1086 as a manor with 14 rent-payers. The Church of St. Stephen is an 1830 construction replacing an earlier 12th century church with possible pre-Conquest origins. Archaeological work has taken place behind 12-26 The Green, which produced evidence for mediaeval domestic activity and possible ploughsoil relating to medieval crofts or garden plots An evaluation carried out by OSA in March 2007 to the rear of 95 Front Street revealed late medieval boundary ditches containing pottery dated to the 15th and 16th centuries”.

The findings of the investigation can be read by clicking here .

A report on contamination on the site can be read by clicking here