Progress on York Outer Ring Road upgrade

Compulsory Purchase Orders may be needed

Proposals to progress the upgrade of the York Outer Ring Road will be considered by the Council Executive at a meeting next week.

If agreed, the Council would have the option to use Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) for land to dual and upgrade the outer ring road – but only as a last resort.

To progress the scheme, the council needs to purchase private farmland to create an extra lane and improved pedestrian and cycle facilities along a 7.5km stretch of the outer ring road,  between A19 Rawcliffe to A1036 Little Hopgrove.

A report published ahead of the council’s Executive next Thursday (18 March) outlines how the council hopes to reach private agreement with all the landowners, but needs to start the legal process to make sure a CPO is ready, if it’s required.

The Executive will also receive an update on the next steps to deliver the project. Officers are analysing 3500 comments from a recent public consultation before submitting a planning application for the scheme.

The council has secured £58m of external funding for the £66m scheme, which will also include upgrades and extra lanes at seven roundabouts.  £25m funding comes from the Department of Transport, while £33m comes from the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund, and the Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1 billion package of Government investment through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.

Almost £300k awarded to reduce emissions in York

City of York Council have been awarded £297,237 by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

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The funding will enable to council to carry out a feasibility study and subsequent pilot scheme to reduce emissions relating to deliveries travelling in to and out of York.

29 local authorities across England have been granted more than £5 million from the government’s Air Quality Grant to deliver innovative projects to improve air quality and reduce the impact of dirty air on people’s health.

The project will focus on how to reduce the number of deliveries made to the city centre and around York by LGVS and HGVs (such as small vans or larger heavy goods vehicles). A study will identify suitable sustainable alternatives which may include a delivery ‘hub’ allowing the last or first mile of the journey to be made by low emission modes, including e-cargo bikes. The project will aim to reduce both the overall number of vehicles undertaking deliveries and emissions from the remaining fleet. The council will be engaging with businesses, including delivery companies, on the study and pilot scheme. 

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There are five key areas for air quality improvement around York’s inner ring road which are included in York’s Air Quality Management Area  (AQMA). This project has the potential to reduce NOx emissions in all these areas and across the wider district. The new project will also reduce emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) which is known to be the pollutant of greatest harm to human health.  As well as improving local air quality the project will also help to reduce CO2 emissions to help achieve our Net-Zero targets.

The project will assist in delivering the following action points in York’s current Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP3): 5 (reducing emissions from freight); 11 (Local incentives for low emission vehicles and alternative fuel use); 12 (Attracting low emission industries, business and jobs to York).

The project’s benefits could be realised further afield than the city centre. Depending on the final location of the pilot project, the scheme may also help to address LGV and HGV emissions to neighbouring districts.

Pollution levels still low in York

Air quality remains good, and pollution levels very low, on Gillygate and at other monitoring sites in the City.

Traffic levels are, however, higher than were recorded during lockdown 1 last spring. They are likely to increase further from Monday when there will be a general return to school.

It will be April before shops and offices reopen.

Council plans to reduce road capacity at the Gillygate/St Leonard’s Place/ Bootham junction seem ill timed and insufficiently thought through.

The plans could increase congestion by 30%. That would delay bus services including the vital park and ride links.

In the meantime, residents can monitor hour by hour pollution levels by clicking this link

Meanwhile we understand that the Council will delay its assessment of the effects of road closures in The Groves area.

A review was due in the spring.

They are right to delay as traffic volumes and movements have been untypical during the Lockdown period.

However, it does mean that a reassessment of some of the more questionable aspects of the scheme – such as contraflow cycle routes – will remain in place as traffic volumes and safety hazards increase.

There have been no queues involving deer or cattle in The Groves during recent months

Micklegate Bar still closed

UPDATE: Northern Gas Networks say that reinstatement work in the Blossom Street area will be completed before Monday 15th March. Micklegate Bar will then reopen to users.

A week after the gas works at Micklegate Bar were supposed to end, the Bar remains closed to traffic (and cyclists moving west to east)

Public notice confirmed work should have been completed on 26th February. (notice removal date is obviously an error)

No  explanation for the delay, or new completion date, has been publicised by Northern Gas Networks or the City of York Council.

The similar works, taking place on Blossom Street, are due to be completed next Friday (and appear to be on schedule)

Traffic levels are likely to increase as schools return to normal on Monday. The Micklegate Bar work should have been completed before then.

Council stages three on line consultations

Bootham/Gillygate

The promised consultation on changes to pedestrian priority arrangements at this junction started this week.

It asks whether changes could be made as part of a plan to modernise the traffic signals at the junction.

The survey can be found by clicking this link

Option1

This design replaces all signalling equipment at the junction whilst also making slight improvements for pedestrians crossing the junction.  Transport modelling of these revisions indicate that the impact to all vehicular traffic moving through the junction is negligible however the improvements to infrastructure at the site make future upgrades and revisions to operation easier.

* A full replacement of all on site traffic signalling technology

* Pedestrian Crossing width increased to 4 metres on the Bootham arm of the junction

* Pedestrian Crossing width increased to 6 metres on the Gillygate arm of the junction

* Tactile paving on the St Leonards Place arm of the crossing to be realigned meet current design standards.

Option 2

This design looks to reallocate space at the junction from road traffic to pedestrians whilst also replacing the required signalling equipment. 

Transport modelling of the redesign indicates that the changes would reduce the capacity of the junction by approximately 30%.  This would see significant increases in general traffic delay at the junction and a large increase in queues which would impact on adjacent junctions across the network. 

* A full replacement of all on site traffic signalling technology.

* Pedestrian Crossing widths increased to 4 metres across both the Gillygate and Bootham arms of the junction.

* Additional pedestrian crossing point introduced from the eastern corner of Gillygate to the western footway of St Leonards Place.

* Removal of the left turn lane from St Leonards Place reducing the highway into a single lane in both directions.

* Highway realigned to the East of Gillygate/St Leonards place to create a more straight ahead route for vehicles travelling from Gillygate into St Leonards Place and additional footway and pedestrian realm adjacent to Bootham Bar.

* Existing Pedestrian Island removed from St Leonards place and crossing realigned as a single stage crossing.

The consultation runs until 31st March.

Dropped kerbs

The Council is also consulting on a revised policy for approving dropped kerb – verge cross over plans.

Lack of on street parking space means that more residents will be likely to seek to make this change in the future. Installation of vehicle charging facilities as the internal combustion engine is phased out, may stimulate demand.

The new regulations are very proscriptive. They don’t permit the relocation of tree or street furniture which may obstruct access to a driveway.

A programme of providing dropped kerbs for Council owned premises has stalled over recent years meaning that verges in several streets are now badly damaged.

The draft policy can be found by clicking here

The consultation closes on 28th April

Homeshare York

The Council is also consulting on the future of its Homeshare services

“Currently Homeshare matches a homeowner aged 55+ who has a spare room and could benefit from some support and/or companionship (the ‘Householder’) with a younger person who will provide 10 hours of support a week in exchange for accommodation (the ‘Homesharer’). Homeshare is free to the Householder and the Homesharer pays £160 towards the running of the match as well as any contributions towards council tax increases. Homesharer’s are fully vetted including two references and a DBS check. Matches are made based on both parties’ personalities and interests and support is offered throughout the match. Matches are expected to last for a minimum of 6 months but can be ended early if a match is not working out. For more information you can visit our Homeshare webpage.

the Homeshare survey can be accessed here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/2DQNWN8

The survey runs until 22nd March

Have your say on improvement plans at Bootham Bar

Bootham bar photographed with the junction and traffic lights at red. Two people walk across the pedestrian junction.
Bootham Bar junction

City of York Council wants to hear what residents and businesses think of a new scheme improve pedestrian access at one of the busiest junctions in the city centre.

Works will take place later this year on the Gillygate, Bootham and St Leonard’s junction, which is all part of the Traffic Signal Asset Renewal (TSAR) Project. 

The TSAR project involves installing new signalling equipment and ducting, but also provides an opportunity to consider different options that could enhance the whole area for pedestrians and cyclists.

Two possible designs have been prepared, both would replace all the signals and increase the width of space for pedestrians waiting to cross Gillygate.

Option ‘A’ is the simplest design with little change to the existing layout while option ‘B’ would provide more pedestrian space and improve the historic setting of the area.

It would also allow for an ‘all green’ pedestrian phase across all arms of the junction, with no need to wait half way across when crossing from the Art Gallery to Bootham Bar and a less traffic dominated area.

However, the removal of the left turn lane from St Leonard’s Place to Bootham, and the changed signal phasing, would increase traffic delays and queues at peak times, with potential impact on air quality in Gillygate and Bootham.

Tell us what you think

Views are being sought on which design residents and businesses prefer and why, between Monday 1 March until Wednesday 31 March, and can be submitted, by:

  • Completing the short online survey 
  • Emailing views to: TSAR@york.gov.uk
  • Writing to: TSAR Programme, Transport Systems, Corporate Directorate of Economy and Place, West Offices, York, YO1 6GA.

In addition to the above, over 650 properties in the immediate vicinity of the junction will be sent details of the consultation and offered assistance if they cannot view the design options online.

Millennium Green improvements in next phase of York Central

A map shows the marked areas where benches and decking will be installed as part of the next phase of the York Central development.
The next phase of York Central plans

Millennium Green will receive the first in a series of major improvements as part of the York Central infrastructure works starting on site next week.

Clearance works started last month across the 42 hectare brownfield site, which will provide up to 2500 new homes; up to 6500 jobs as well as vastly improved visitor access experience at the National Railway Museum.

City of York Council and contractors, John Sisk and Son, are delivering letters to neighbouring residents giving full details of the latest works on both Millennium Green and adjacent to Bishopfields Drive. The works include:

Millennium Green

  • Clearing vegetation and a small number of trees
  • Improving around 300m of footpath
  • A new timber viewing platform and renewal works on the pond
  • 3 new benches
  • Improvements to the southern culvert wall and footpath including replacements steps, and handrail
  • New fence along the eastern boundary
  • Temporary fencing and flooring to protect the Millennium Green oak and mosaic throughout the works

Land adjacent to Bishopfields Drive

  • Removing a small area of treeline essential to allow the infrastructure works, while protecting remaining trees from the works. 

The Millennium Green’s lease included a ‘take-back’ option for a small area of land in the north wet to allow the York Central regeneration. 

Following consultation with local residents in 2018, the Trust agreed a package which includes a license to use some land during construction, the landscaping of this land when the access road is finished, the provision of alternative land to replace the area taken back and a payment of £375,000 to the Trust to secure its future and fund an ongoing maintenance programme.

Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said:

York Central remains one of the most important and attractive regeneration sites in the country and is an opportunity that many other towns and cities in the UK would envy. 

“At the same time as making progress to provide the jobs and houses the city needs, we want to protect and enhance our city’s green spaces.  Trees are only being removed where absolutely essential, and will be more than replaced by the 300 mature trees planted during the next phases of infrastructure works. York Central will also include the largest park in the city for 100 years and areas to encourage biodiversity,  while the council will plant 50,000 trees in York by 2023.

“The Council will continue to working closely with John Sisk and Sons to limit any disruption to neighbouring residents and businesses, and to keep them informed of any planned works.  As ever, we thank all local residents and businesses for their patience.”

All the work has been approved as part of the planning approval on the site.

York Central is being delivered in partnership by Network Rail, Homes England, National Railway Museum and City of York Council. Homes England and Network Rail have supported the development of the site through land acquisition and master planning, and they will now oversee the infrastructure projects.

John Sisk and Son have been appointed as lead contractor for these site clearance works.

This infrastructure work is part of a wider £155m funding pot secured by the York Central Partnership to deliver infrastructure to open up the site for development.

This includes:

£77.1m funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

£23.5m of a total of £37.2m from the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund and Leeds City Region Growth Deal, which will also fund the ambitious plans to transform the front of the railway station.

The West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund has been part-funded through the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal, a £1 billion package of Government funding to drive growth and job creation across the Leeds City Region.

The aim is to create around 20,000 new jobs and add £2.4 billion a year to the economy by the mid-2030s.
On top of a £6m Local Growth Fund contribution, from the York and North Yorkshire LEP, a further £35m has been secured to be repaid using retained business rates from the York Central Enterprise Zone.

Work starts on region’s largest EV charging hubs

City of York Council is delighted to be working in partnership with Evo Energy to start construction on the largest HyperHub sites in the region.

Artist impression of new hyper hub at Monks Cross.
Artist’s impression of new Hyper Hub at Monks Cross.

The council is investing £2.2m to develop sites, next to Monks Cross and Poppleton Bar Park and Rides, into high quality, high speed electric vehicle charging hubs.

Each HyperHub site will consist of solar PV canopies, battery energy storage, 4 Rapid and 4 Ultra Rapid electric vehicle chargers.

The chargers will help the region to support the next generation of electric vehicles which have significantly larger battery capacities and support higher charging speeds.

Construction on both sites has started, and will be led by EvoEnergy. The new sites at Monks Cross and Poppleton are scheduled for completion in June 2021.

City of York Council is a pioneer in the use of innovative green technology. Over recent years, the council has lead the way in providing a range of public charging facilities for electric vehicles to help reduce carbon emissions and improve local air quality thanks to EV’s eliminating NOx emissions at the point of use.

In addition to generating low carbon electricity on site through PV arrays, all of the electricity supplied from the national grid will be generated by renewable sources providing users with low carbon electricity and ensuring that no NOx emissions are emitted from electricity generation.

The council has successfully secured £1m of European Regional Development Funding and £800,000 from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, along with £400,000 of the council’s own capital funding to install the first two HyperHubs.

This comes just at a time when the nation prepares to transition across to using electric vehicles with the announcement of a complete ban on sales of new petrol or diesel cars by 2030, with plug-in hybrid sales to end in 2035.

When the council first developed their EV charging network in 2013, there were far fewer plug-in vehicles on the road. However, over the past few years, electric vehicle technology has progressed massively and these vehicles have now become a viable option for many everyday road users.

What is Included?

City of York Council has been able to secure funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and European Regional Development Fund.

This largely covers the cost of building the two HyperHub sites, along with a solar canopy system (100kWp) which will generate green electricity and keep users dry and a battery storage solution (348kW / 507kWh), meaning that the council will be able to maintain a lower tariff than commercial operators can offer.

Both of the HyperHub sites will contain 4x Ultra-Rapid (150kW) and 4x Rapid (50kW) vehicle chargers, helping to support the uptake of modern EV’s that have larger battery capacities and are capable of Ultra Rapid charging.

The development of this system will encourage private car owners, taxi drivers and business users to make use of the new facilities, therefore, improving the city’s overall carbon emissions.

Both of the HyperHub sites are started construction in January with both sites due to finish in June 2021. 

This investment is just the beginning of the journey for City of York Council as they revitalise their electric vehicle charging network in 2021 ready to support the transition to EV.

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Bus subsidies for hospital and Community Stadium services

A government subsidy of £83,000 is to be used to support to bus service links in the City

Rawcliffe Bar Park and Ride – Hospital
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This service has run into financial difficulties as bus patronage fell during the pandemic.  The service is used by staff and patients to access the Hospital, while avoiding congestion and parking charges, in the Wigginton Road area. The subsidy only lasts until the end of March 2021 so what happens to the service after that is unclear.

Originally it was hoped that the link would reduce car usage in and near the City centre.

Community Stadium
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Tonight sees what may be the first game for York City at the Community Stadium.

It will be a behind closed doors event.

With the National League North likely to be abandoned before the end of the month, it may also prove to be the last football match there until late summer.

£63,000 has been allocated for new bus service links to the stadium. Although there would be little point in introducing such links while the ban on spectators remains, they would be a welcome addition when things return to “normal”.  

Hopefully the government will extend the availability of the subsidy so it can be used during the 2021/22 financial year.

The first to benefit may be York Knights fans who hope that limited attendances might be permitted during the latter part of their campaign which starts in March.

Council bus service subsidy decisions

Electric vehicles? Where next in York

With the sale of new internal combustion powered cars scheduled to end in 9 years time, there is increasing pressure to extend the recharging network in York. Battery power (or maybe in the longer-term hydrogen fuel cells) will soon be the only option available.

Electric reuse collection vehicle

The Councils budget does includes plans to invest over £5 million in making its own fleet all electric. It includes a £1.8 million infrastructure programme and says it is doing so  to ensure that the Council is “carbon neutral” by 2030.  

A report being considered today, says “a  key element of the investment is to develop an electric charging infrastructure at the (Council) depot, satellite depots and home charging to ensure full charging capacity of all vehicles at all times can be met”.

 In recent years, the Council has had a poor procurement record on vehicle renewal. The result has been a refuse collection fleet which, by last summer, had become chronically unreliable. They need to be more decisive, and realistic about delivery timescales, in the future.

A Hyper recharging Hub

The Council has already announced plans for a “HyperHubs” project to provide “next generation electric vehicle charging infrastructure at Monks Cross and Poppleton Bar Park & Ride sites”. The Monks Cross HyperHub is due to be completed by April 2021 and will include the first Ultra Rapid chargers in the City.

The Council says that design work is continuing for a third City Centre HyperHub following the decision to move the site from York Hospital “which had insurmountable access issues”. The hub is due to open in the autumn of 2021, although details of the location have not been released.

One possible site is the Piccadilly multi storey car park which has been under-used since the Council switched off the advance car park space availability systems 8 years ago. If it were designated for electric vehicles it might be possible to reopen the tunnel link from the nearby Castle Car park.

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Some lampposts in London are being fitted with recharging sockets

One of the ongoing issues to be addressed with charging bays is their reliability and occupancy limits.  Recharging to 80% capacity takes about 30 minutes on most new electric cars. When charged up, the vehicle owner must return to the vehicle and free up the space for other users.

Home charging on the other hand is more convenient and can take place overnight if a £400 home box is fitted. That option is not available for those who park on the street.

The Council will spend another £550,000 next year in renewing lampposts. As part of the programme LED fittings will be used. These reduce power use. This offers the opportunity for recharging sockets to be included in the specification.

The Council want to ban cars from York City centre

No such proposals have been made in York although the lamppost charging option is available in parts of London, while Oxford is trialling the provision of ducted access to adjacent properties where off street parking is impossible.  

Access to lamppost sockets is available for only a limited time so, where streets have a parking deficit already, reserving parking bays for charging will only exacerbate the problems.  

There is little sign of Councillors addressing these issues.

Instead many have simply said they oppose the use of personal transport in the urban area however the vehicles  may be fueled.