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%

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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

Green Belt wind turbine approved

A 5.5 metre diameter wind turbine is set to become a feature of the landscape on the A59 Boroughbridge Road following a decision by the York planning committee. The turbine tower is being constructed at the Nairobi Stables and will be 9 metres high. Permission has also been granted for a detached garage which will be used to house equipment and to store vehicles. The power from the turbine will be used to generate electricity for a nearby dwelling and café. It is expected to generate about 9000 KWh per year.

Lidl store on Thanet Road

The store is expected open in February. Lidl have already advertised for staff.

The company won part of their planning appeal and will therefore be allowed to display two additional external signs on the building

The Hob Moor footpath access (to the former pool car park ) is being moved to a point adjacent to St James Place for safety reasons. A gate is being provided.

Green Lane survey results

VASWe’ve been out this week in the Green Lane area surveying resident’s views on possible changes to traffic arrangements.

With over 50% of forms returned, we had a very good response rate. In summary the results are:

  • Residents support the provision of a speed indicator sign similar to that provided on Wetherby Road. (see photo)
  • Resident’s have voted, by a large majority, not to have traffic calming measures installed (either speed cushions or speed tables) on Green Lane.
  • Residents are also opposed to the provision of an off carriageway cycle path (although this wouldn’t have been practical on most of the length of the lane anyway because of the trees)

It is likely that the sign, together with the provision of an on carrigeway advisory cycle lane, will be endorsed when the issue is decided by the Council on 6th July.

Separately. residents gave the thumbs up to using the Lowfields school site (the footprint of the former buildings) for use as either elderly persons accommodation or a army cadet HQ. Many residents stressed that they wanted the green area to be retained and improved – possibly with part of it being used as a nature reserve. It is likely to be several months before any proposals are put forward for this site. 

The issue raised by the largest number of residents concerned poor parking near the Fish and Chip shop. It is likely that there will be more enforcement action taken in the area.