York Council hoarding £2.7 million intended for public service improvements?

Contributions made by developers for affordable housing, transport, leisure and schools improvements.

The vast majority of the payments made to the York Council by builders – to offset the impact that new developments have on the demand for public services – has not been spent by the Council.

Not only have projects which would increase public service capacity not been identified there is not record of the current administration having even discussed its plans for the cash mountain.

The amounts collected include several hundred thousand pounds as contributions towards the provision of ”affordable” housing. These are commuted sums paid when a developer is unable to provide cheaper accommodation “on site”.

House building, Norfolk

Quite why the Council has simply not bought properties on the open market with this money is a mystery. It would be the quickest way of accommodating several dozen people who are currently living in poor quality accommodation.

The unused ”receipts” have led some developers to call for a “refund”.  They point out, with some justification, that if their developments had caused an increase in demand for public services, then such demand must have been satisfied when the properties were occupied.

Banking the money for over 5 years suggests that the S106 system is simply being used as an additional “tax” on development. In part it may explain the low house building numbers in the City over the last 3 years.

click to access source file

click to access source file

Now they plan to demand that the monies are returned to them.

The figures were obtained under a Freedom of Information request.

A spreadsheet showing what payments have been made and how (some) of the money has been used, can be found by clicking here.

The paper does not include some of the largest S106 payments such as that scheduled to be used to build the “Community Stadium” at Monks Cross.

York Community Stadium size shock

The Councils Cabinet is to consider an update on the much delayed Community Stadium at its meeting on 7th January.

The Council is seeking an operator who will design, build, operate and maintain the stadium. They will also manage and maintain the Councils other Leisure facilities such as the successful Energise sports centre on Cornlands Road.

Given the Council somewhat varied track record on Leisure centre management (the Barbican was costing taxpayers £800,000 a year until it was privatised), the Council is probably correct to seek a professional organisation to manage the Stadium.

Athletics layout - Heslington West click for original

Athletics layout – Heslington West click for original

Discussions with 2 preferred bidders are expected to continue until March. Their plans will be kept secret until later in the year.

The Council says that “All submissions were able to meet the basic minimum criteria set of 6,000 capacity all-seat stadium, community hub within the financial parameters of the project”

However designing the stadium so that it can be expanded in capacity later is described as having “major cost implications” and it seems that the initial capacity may be increased to over 6000 with “some terraced standing space”.

That is likely to please many football supporters but it would be at the expense of later expansion capability.

It seem likely now that a stadium with a capacity of 7000 will be provided but with the capability of expansion to 10,000 only if Championship (or Super League) promotion is achieved.

The report confirms that the costs of running the stadium will be covered “through a mix of the rentals from the sports clubs, the community hub tenants and other commercial income streams brought forward by each bidder. This will include full maintenance and lifecycle costs as part of a 13 year operational contract”.

The Council are now talking about opening the stadium in spring 2016.

Final Tenders

May 2014

Planning   & Project Agreement Live

January   2015

Work starts on site

February   2015

Stadium Opens

February / March 2016

The £2 million athletics facility at Heslington West is expected to be opened in September 2014. A copy of the design specification for the athletics facility can be viewed here.

The Cabinet report includes a list of the risk factors that must be addressed. Not least amongst these is the need to meet the requirements of the Football Foundation who loaned York City £2 million in 2005.

Local Plan and York immigration numbers

Cllr Laing was challenged at the last Council meeting to justify her claim that 22,000 additional homes were required to house existing York families.

A few weeks ago she published numbers which suggested that there were around 1000 more births in the City, than deaths, each year.

Year Births Deaths Dif Housing Rqmt (2.2   people per dwelling) Housing   completions
2003 3021 2381 640 291 525
2004 3270 2236 1034 470 1160
2005 3311 2292 1019 463 906
2006 3247 2247 1000 455 798
2007 3255 2240 1015 461 523
2008 3565 2320 1245 566 451
2009 3495 2408 1087 494 507
2010 3404 2303 1101 500 514
2011 3461 2416 1045 475 321
2012 3481 2378 1103 501 482
Total 33510 23221 10289 4677 6187
Ave 3351 2322 1029 468 619
Census 2001 -2011 Ave 1691 769
Forecast growth pa to 2026 (16 years)Base 2010 197K

2026 216.8K

Total population increase 19,800

(source Council Local Plan/ONS)

1238 563
Additional homes required to meet natural population growth in perod to 2026 9000

This would have produced a net requirement for around 500 additional homes per year.

This is very much in line with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures which show the City to have grown in population size by 1% pa over the last decade.

The ONS forecast is similar for the next 2 decades, confirming that the Council, in its Local Plan, needs to allocate land for around 12,000 additional homes over the next 25 years.

This would allow for some inward migration given the need to attract people with the right skills to sustain the buoyant York economy.

The Councillor was unable – or reluctant – at the meeting to explain who would occupy the other 10,000 homes that Labour hopes to build.  While admitting that the figures were not influenced by the numbers of the housing waiting list, Cllr Laing – who has responsibility for housing policy in the City – said that it was Cllr Merrett who made the decisions on building numbers!

So, although they are desperate not to admit it publicly, Labour plan to accommodate the largest number of inward migrants to the City since Eric Bloodaxe sailed into view on the river Ouse.

When will residents get their chance to express their views to the Councils Local Plan working group?

That also attracted a stonewall response from Cllr Merrett. “Officers are currently analysing and summarising all of the responses received”.  Residents will be able to address the committee when proposed changes to the draft plan are debated.

This is the clearest indication yet that Labour plan to backtrack on some of their plans.

Every planning permission granted over the last 6 months, for sites mentioned in the Draft Local Plan, has produced many more housing units than forecast.

There is no reason why green belt sites should be developed, a sentiment that 89% of residents responding to our survey agree with.

Hob Moor development gets go ahead

Hungate, Askham Bryan, Terry’s, Lawrence Street also approved

Approved plan for Hob Moor site click to enlarge

Approved plan for Hob Moor site click to enlarge

The controversial house building plans for the former Our Lady’s school site on Windsor Garth were approved by the Planning Committee last night. It appears though that the scheme may now be referred to the Secretary of State for his views.

Although the revised plans were an improvement on those originally submitted, it remains a very dense development which will add further pressures to public services in the area.

No provision has been made to provide additional parking spaces for those vehicles which will be displaced from the access road.

Astonishingly no restrictions were imposed by the committee on the use of tracked plant outside the line of the existing railings, opening up the possibility that – in wet conditions – parts of the Moor adjacent to the site might be subject to severe damage.

Although most of the existing metal railings area now being retained – allowing the existing trees and bushes to remain in place as a visual screen – on the north side of the site a new wooden fence will be installed.

No reason has been given for replacing the railings with this inferior fence, which is likely to provide less security for both residents and the Moor.


The committee also approved development plans for offices in Hungate (Haymarket car park), an extension to Askham Bryan College, detailed design features on the Terry’s site as well as the provision of new student accommodation on Lawrence Street.

Hob Moor Windsor Garth development recommended for approval

A further report on the planned housing development on Windsor Garth has now been published for the Planning meeting which is taking place on 19th December 2013.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

The application has been updated to reduce the number of properties by one, incorporate a small play area and retain the existing railings around part of the site. These changes were notified to interested parties on 4th December.

These changes are welcomed.

However the Council is reducing its S106 requirements to reflect the on site “open space” provision but – without explanation – also scraps the payment of a commuted sum in lieu of the provision of school places. It seems most unlikely that the forecast demand – and supply of – school places has changed significantly since the original plan was considered in October.

Para 4.6 of the report says, “It is intended to retain the existing peripheral boundary fence suitably modified and colour coated to lessen its visual impact”.

This is welcome although the plan submitted by the applicants suggests that the railings will be removed for a section to the north of the site. There would seem to be no reason why this section should also not continue to enjoy the protection of the railings.

We feel that it is important that a condition be added requiring that all plant, wishing to access the site, must utilise existing (bitmaced) links and that no vehicles be permitted to use Hob Moor for this purpose.

Any access from Hob Moor would result in extensive damage which would take years to rectify.

Outstanding issues

• The density remains high. It is inappropriate to compare it to the surrounding area which is largely flats (and which are inevitably relatively high density)

• No adequate arrangements have been made to address the reduction of “on street” parking spaces for the link road (adjacent to Kempton Close). Alternative off street parking spaces should be provided for displaced vehicles.

• The playground is welcome. However it should be surrounded by railings, to prevent dog fouling, and be made capable of being secured at night (by residents) should it become a source of anti social behaviour.

• The developer should do more to reduce the running costs of the homes. Energy conservation – and micro generation features -are increasingly important for those with limited incomes.

Our Lady’s Hob Moor development – revised proposals received by Council

Most of the metal railings and screen planting protecting the Our Lady’s development site will be retained under new proposals received by the Council.

click to access

click to access

Yorkshire Housing have submitted revised proposals for the development of the Our Ladys site following the deferral of their application at the last planning committee meeting.

They can be viewed on the “Planning on Line” web site under reference 13/02892/FULM

The plans involve the retention of most of the perimeter railings although in one key section on the northern boundary (where security and landscape appearance are sensitive issues) they propose to remove them. The new fencing is described as being at “a lower level”

No justification for removing the railings from this section is included in the papers.

This raises the concern that the developers hope to move plant onto the site via Hob Moor itself. This could result in damage which would take decades to repair.

The existing, and supplemented, shrubs and trees along the boundary would be protected by a post and rail fence.

click to access plans

click to access plans

The new proposals result in the loss of one housing unit meaning that 55 are now likely to be built on the site. This is still a lot more than the 29 units which were included in the draft Local Plan when it was published in April.

The appearance of the homes is little changed.

A small play ground aimed at young children, plus an area of Public Open Space, is now included towards the north west of the development.

There have been changes to the road layout

However no changes to the “sustainability” of the development are proposed.

The architect has written to the Council to say that “My client has carried out exhaustive viability appraisals on the site; however, the jump to Code level 4 on this development cannot be achieved.

As you are aware the site was purchased on the open market in competition with Private developers who would be delivering the minimum Affordable housing across the site at Code 3.

We are policy compliant at code 3 and offering a much improved level of affordable housing with the required 10% renewables”.

Have a higher “sustainability” rating would mean that the homes were cheaper to run.

Houses in Multiple Occupation -change proposed


The York Council’s Local Plan Working Group will be asked to note and approve the findings from a comprehensive review which highlights some of the challenges facing the shared housing sector in York

The Council has issued the following media release which outlines how they are likely to restricted the number of “shared” houses in particular areas.


Another “take away” planned for The Green, Acomb.

Latest Planning applications for Acomb and Westfield Ward

Below are the latest planning applications received by the York Council for the Acomb ward. There were no applications submitted for the Westfield Ward

Full details can be found by clicking the application reference
Location: 99 Almsford Road York YO26 5NU

Proposal: Two storey side extension

Ref No: 13/03679/FUL

Applicant: Mr And Mrs Howland Contact: Mr Paul Brown Consultation Expiry Date: 23 December 2013 Case Officer: Elizabeth Potter Expected Decision Level: DEL
Address 17 Melwood Grove York YO26 5RE

Condition 3 (materials)


Reference AOD/13/00591 Application Received Tue 26 Nov 2013
Address Pedpit Motor Stores Limited Unit 3 Greenside House The Green Acomb York YO26 5LL

Proposal Change of use from retail unit (use class A1) to takeaway (use class A5)

Reference 13/03520/FUL

Application Received Fri 01 Nov 2013
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.

Cleveland Street residents raise concerns about “bridge to nowhere”

click for large scale plan

click for large scale plan

The Council’s Cabinet is set to agree to buy a strip of land (marked C on the plan) between Wilton Rise/Cleveland Street and Chancery Rise when it meets on Tuesday.

The Council bought sites A and B in 2011.

The Chancery Rise link will be the location for the Councils £10 million access bridge into the York Central site.

The bridge will pass close to some houses on Cleveland Street and may affect the nearby playground.

There has been surprisingly little discussion with local residents about the plan which could have major noise and pollution implications.

No planning permission for the bridge is in place.

The Council is also looking to sell on site A to Network Rail.  The site will accommodate some rail functions relocated from the York central area.

The affected streets fall within the Holgate ward. They are represented by Cabinet members James Alexander and Sonja Crisp.


British Sugar plans now online – no mention of “large supermarket”

Plans, and “options”, for the redevelopment of the British Sugar site off Boroughbridge Road are now “on line” (click)

click to visit web site and complete survey

click to visit web site and complete survey

The web site claims that;

Redevelopment of the former industrial site can deliver around 1000 new high quality homes, new public open spaces and a community hub which could incorporate a new community hall, sports hall, nursery and primary school.

That is pretty much as expected.

The principle of residential development had enjoyed broad support across the Council.

The main concerns relate to transport issues and the nature, location and scale of any commercial and retail developments.

The consultation concentrates mainly on the location of open space and transport corridors.

It says absolutely nothing about the location and size of any “large supermarket” which Council leaders claimed a couple of weeks ago was an important feature of the scheme.

A small local store to meet the needs of the residents living on the development would be essential.

Another superstore would, however, raise all sorts of transport issues.

The most obvious community facilities (shops) don’t figure on the list of options for the “community hub” listed on the web site.

Nor is there any commercial development which could provide jobs within walking distance of people’s homes. Thus, an opportunity to establish a sustainable community, has been lost.

There are no traffic generation figures listed and the phasing of the development – and community facilities – is also very vague.

There is a final chance to see the plans at an exhibition which is taking place today Saturday 30 November at the former Manor School site, Low Poppleton Lane, York, YO26 6BB between 11am and 4pm.

Site tours will also be offered to those attending the event.

It’s a shame that the developers didn’t provide an “on line” Q & A section on their web site