New planning application in Westfield Ward

Only one local planning application was received by the Council last week. Full details can be found by clicking the reference below or by quoting the application reference on the “planning portal” web site. Representations can be made in favour of or in opposition to any application via the Planning on line web site.

Ref No: 13/00337/FUL Location: 56 Green Lane Acomb York YO24 4PS Proposal: Conversion of ground floor from retail (use Class A1) to residential flat (use Class C3) Applicant: Mr Graham Plunton Contact Mr J Funnell Consultation Expiry Date 1 April 2013 Case Officer: Jonathan Kenyon Expected Decision DEL

Labour cut waste collection, road maintenance, community centres, libraries, elderly persons homes, ice clearance, job training and Social Services.

Cuts to street level services click to enlarge

Cuts to street level services click to enlarge

Labour’s hopelessly misjudged Council budget proposals are set to be approved tonight. Cuts to all front line public services are planned yet

Labour also intend to retain a £1 million a year “slush fund” which is used to pay for a range of inessential “vanity” projects.

The £1 million this year has been used to pay for lighting and firework displays, free WiFi access in the City centre, a plan to open the Bonding warehouse as a “digital media hub”, building design competitions, an “innovation catalyst” programme; not to mention the occasional foreign travel trip.

More waste is evident in the Councils capital programme where commitments to introducing an unnecessary Citywide 20 mph speed limit and the purchase of a barge for use as an arts centre have seen interest payments, on borrowed money, double since Labour took control of the Council.

Abandoning these “vanity” projects and making good use of the reduced running costs (down by £375,000) of its new HQ would allow the Council to restore many of the most damaging cuts.

Labour’s key proposals would see:

A 1.9% hike in Council tax levels (despite central government offering to underwrite the costs of a freeze)

• Privatisation or outsourcing of leisure/swimming pool management the Warden Call service and the “Sheltered housing with extra care” service. Even the Mansion House will be commercialised

Grants to Museums Trust cut by £100,000, the Theatre Royal by £101,000 with similar % cuts other voluntary sector bodies

• At a time when people are rightly worried following revelations about meat quality, trading standards faces a £42,000 cut, while there will be less air quality monitoring.

• There will be less for job training as Future Prospects loses £150,000

• The closure of elderly persons homes will be brought forward meaning that some residents face double moves before new accommodation is completed. In 2014 pensioners will face a 90p charge when using their passes on Park and Ride services

Disabled facilities at Greenworks and Brunswick Nursery cut by £50,000 Supported employment budget cut by £200,000 forcing disabled people into “mainstream employment”

Social Service clients with personal budgets will lose out from a £500,000 budget cut

Looked after children – basically those with foster parents – face a £700,000 cut with another £400,000 to come off in 2014.

Respite services get a £50,000 reduction.

Children’s centres face a £128,000 cut in 2014

• The toy library bus will scrapped in 2014

Some reductions in expenditure were inevitable.

Labour have simply chosen to economise on the wrong services.

Meanwhile there are some concerns about the likely quality of tonights Council debate

New Monks Cross plans on display on Saturday

Last year Oakgate (Monks Cross) Ltd submitted plans for a new Community Stadium and enabling retail development at Monks Cross.

Since the planning application was submitted, they’ve made a few changes to the proposals. The most prominent of these is the removal of the development site to the south of the spine road and the addition of all-weather pitches for community use, which was something that was raised by the Council.

Other amendments include increasing the areas of landscaping and reducing the car parking numbers on site to 1,340.

An exhibition of the revised proposals is taking place at the De Grey Rooms, next to the Theatre Royal in St Leonard’s Place, York City Centre on Saturday 3rd March, between 10am and 5pm. Plans and images will be on display and members of the development team will be there to answer any questions.

Planning applications in Westfield area

Recent planning applications - click to enlarge

Few new planning applications have been submitted in the Westfield area over the last few weeks.

The determination date for several long outstanding applications has passed. The Council may now be liable for non determination. This means that the applicant can appeal and a decision would be taken by the (independent) planning inspectorate

Those outstanding include the significant development on The Green.

The length of time it is taking to decide the application for new car parking space at the St Stephen’s Road/ Stephen’s Square junction is bordering on the ridiculous.

Proposed site for parking area in St Stephens Square

New city centre sheltered cycle parking

Cyclists now have more choice where to park their bikes in the city centre.

The new cycle parking area is based in Newgate Market, which was created by converting a row of empty trader stalls at the back of the market.

The row of cycle racks has room to park up to 20 bikes, which will be sheltered from the rain (or snow) as they are under the old trader stall’s canopy, which has been retained.

This new area of cycle parking is best accessed via the archway from the Shambles and is monitored by nearby CCTV.

Home repossessions in York less than national average

York fares relatively well in a Shelter report on the number of household evictions seen over the last year.

The City comes 230th out of 320 English local authorities surveyed by the national charity Shelter. There were 470 repossessions in the City working out at a rate of 5.6 per 1000 dwellings.

The City’s relatively good performance – which beats both regional and national averages – is put down to our low unemployment rate.

Regionally York is bettered only by some North Yorkshire districts with Craven having one of the lowest repossession rates in the country. The worst were found in the Hull and Grimsby areas.

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Shared homes to be limited to 20%

double click to enlarge

The Council will be considering on 9th January a plan which would limit the number of shared houses in the City to 20% of the total stock.

The calculation may be done at either a (900 home) neighbourhood level or on a street by street basis.

At the moment only “houses in multiple occupation” (HMOs) with more than 6, non related, occupants need planning permission. The new rule would require an application for any property where 3 or more, non family, members share facilities. It is aimed at controlling the growing number of properties in parts of the City which are let on a “rooms” basis mainly to students.

Those living near some HMOs complain about the unkempt appearance of properties particularly during the 4 months a year that they are empty. Others point to lifestyle differences in neighbourhoods which otherwise might be dominated by either families or retired people. Residents in estates like Badger Hill have been particularly vocal with their complaints.

The political parties represented on the Council were divided on how to deal with the issue. The Liberal Democrats favoured the introduction of an “approved landlord” scheme which would have controlled – by agreement – both the maintenance of properties and a code of conduct for occupants.

Labour favoured an “Article 4” Direction which required a planning application before any property could become a HMO.

The major issue is now what percentage of HMOs should be allowed in an area or street before ithey effect its “character” ?

The 20% limit will come as a surprise to many with a significantly higher figure having been canvassed.

If a 20% limit were to be applied to a neighbourhood then it would have less of an effect than applying a street by street limit.

A combination of the two restrictions (neighbourhood + street) could mean that large sections of the City would be excluded from further HMO conversions. This would have the effect of pushing the conversions further away from the Universities with repercussions for transport and other related public services.

An unintended consequence may be that ordinary working people – who share accommodation – could be caught by the restriction. The option of limiting the change only to student occupied properties (which can be easily identified as students are exempt from paying Council Tax) is not being recommended by housing officials.

Many students would prefer to live on campus. The historic attractions of living in the community included lower rent levels. But £100 a week for a room is not uncommon these days and campus flats are increasingly attractive. However only limited amounts of purpose designed student accommodation is currently in the pipeline.

York is now highly dependent on the “knowledge sector” for its economic prosperity. Setting an artificially low limit on the number of HMOs permitted in an area could damage that prosperity.

At the moment the Council seems to be in danger of going too far in trying to placate sectional interests.

Shopping in York

In the absence of a Local Development Framework (LDF), individual planning applications in York are judged on their merits. Precedent is important and some weight can been given to emerging planning policies. These include the documents which may support the LDF when it has passed through the Public Inquiry stage next year.
Recently the government has given local authorities more powers to make planning decisions based on local factors.
It is perhaps not surprising then that there is a raft of apparently conflicting advice from consultants on what the effects additional retail sales areas in different parts of the City might have on the “market” as a whole.
Clifton Moor (circa 44,000 sq m net) is one of the largest retail parks in the country. It has the strongest market shares in the more bulky goods categories including ‘furniture, floor coverings and household textiles’, ‘DIY/Decorating’, ‘domestic appliances’ and ‘electrical entertainment’
Monks Cross Shopping Park (circa 27,250 sq m net) dominates in the clothing and footwear category
The Tesco Extra food store in Askham Bar in the largest food store in the City of York with a turnover of around £53.1m.
Professionals divide shopping into 3 categories:
• Convenience – Mainly food and day to day disposables
• Services – cafés and takeaways, banks, dry cleaners, post offices hairdressers etc
• Comparison – electrical, homeware, furniture, gardening, clothes,etc
It is the last category that is currently generating the most debate about development in York. Controversy is focused on the plans for the John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and Community Stadium development at Monks Cross.
The last objective study by Grimleys consultants – was published in 2008 to inform the LDF build process. In 2008, although talks were underway on where a new Community Stadium might be located, neither a site nor a means of funding it had been found. Thus the Grimley study was an objective one and was not tied to a particularly development philosophy.
The report concluded that “in the future growth rates of 1.5-2.5% pa seem likely to be achieved for comparison goods shopping”. They also said that the York City centre is “buoyant” reflecting in relatively high rent prices and a long list of national retailers seeking space in the area”.
York’s main competitors for shoppers are Leeds and Harrogate.
Grimleys estimated by 2012, there would be capacity (spending power) to support an additional 9,245 sq m net of comparison goods floor space, increasing to 31,361 sq m net by 2017, 56,254 sq m net by 2022 and 95,742 sq m net by 2029.
The only significant retail area currently with planning permission is Hungate with a floor space of 4,155 sq m
This compares with the ill fated application by Land Securities early in the last decade for 21,367 sq m at the Coppergate/Piccadilly site (which was later sold to Centros when the planning permission was refused by a government inspector).
The planning application for this key City Centre site had been vigorously opposed by “dark green” campaigners (who opposed any development on the Castle car park which they felt should be grassed over), those who thought the development would spoil the streetscape near Clifford’s Tower and even by some City centre traders who feared that the “focus” of shopping would move (away from the streets where their shops were located).
At Monks Cross, Marks and Spencer want to provide 11,148 sq m of new shopping space (80% comparison). The Coppergate M & S outlet – together with the existing 2 small outlets that they have at Monks Cross – would close. There would be major investment in their highly successful Parliament Street store.
John Lewis, who currently don’t have a store in York, are seeking 9290 sq m. of retails floorspace at Monks Cross
The Planners first choice for development is always city centre sites. There are none of sufficient size to satisfy the needs of M & S and John Lewis, and which are “ready to go”.
Coppergate is still in the planning stage (with a fragile planning history), Hungate is too small and York Central (the land behind the station) is too expensive to develop at present (there are enormous costs in moving existing users, dealing with contamination and providing access infrastructure).
So there is demand for more retail space in the City, the sequential test of location has been met and – critically- the investment funding has been secured.
Either the City wants to seize investment opportunities like this or it will lurch from one period of indecision to the next. The loser will be the shopper and – in the end – the resident and all traders.

York Wheel back?

York Wheel

Council officials are recommending that planning permission be given to installing a 53 metre diameter observation wheel in front of the Royal York Hotel. It would be in place on a temporary basis until January 2013.
The Wheel was removed from its previous home at the Railway Museum because the operators claimed that low footfall – particularly during the winter months – made it uneconomic.
Plans to put the Wheel in locations at St Georges Field and then, later, to the rear of the Art Gallery came to nothing 12 months ago.
The site at the Royal York is sure to be controversial with fears from some Westgate flat residents that they will be “overlooked”.
However it is the impact on York’s historic walls and streetscape that will cause most concern.

Big development proposed for The Green, Acomb

A planning application has been submitted to demolish a bungalow and garage at 42A The Green. It would be replaced with 3 x 3 bedroomed houses and a block containing 3 x 1 bedroomed and 3 x 2 bedroomed flats.
15 car parking spaces will be provided . Currently 5 spaces exist
This is the largest proposed change in The Green conservation area for many years. Although the existing properties on this site are unlikely to be regarded as critical for the integrity of the traditional streetscape, attention is likely to concentrate on the impact and scale of the proposals.
As the site is in a conservation area it will need special consent.
The application is due to be determined by the Council by 16th December.
Details can be found on the public planning access web site at Reference 11/02713/CAC

Proposed layout for development click image to enlarge