Praise for new housing schemes in York but reality on the ground is different.

‘We’re going above and beyond’ … CGI of Burnholme View.
New estate design at Duncombe barracks

An article in The Guardian has highlighted some of the new housing schemes being progressed by the York Council. It praises new Passivhaus low-energy standard designs. Plans for low energy estates on the Duncombe Barracks and Burnholme sites are being discussed today by the Councils executive.

Unfortunately both the article, and today’s Council report, fail to recognise the downsides of this type of building programme.

Two years into the controversial development of the Lowfields site, fewer than half the homes being built in the first phase have been reserved.  Not entirely surprising you might say, with an average size 3 bed semi priced at nearly £300,000. Sure, you can expect lower energy consumption bills but what good is that if you can’t afford a mortgage?

Being told that a communal “cargo bike” is available for hire is unlikely to provide much solace

Communications by the Council’s own “Shape” development company with neighbours are poor and promised regular bulletins have not materialised.

Lowfield building site slow progress

All six of the “self build” plots on the site have been allocated but we seem to be no closer to seeing the “Yorspace” communal housing group complete the purchase their allocated site. That process has dragged on for nearly 2 years now.  Surely the time has come to use this plot for other purposes – most obviously to extend the space available for self-build units?

There is an element of urgency.

Neighbours were promised that the site would be fully developed within 3 years. The inevitable disruption, noise, dust and mud associated with building works would then come to an end and community cohesion could begin to re-establish itself.

The Council claimed that the neighbourhood in general would benefit from a new “health centre”. A police station was mentioned. A new playground would form part of a new “village green”. A care home would provide a boost for older people.

None of these seem likely to happen in the foreseeable future.  None are mentioned in the Councils progress report, which limits itself to reporting on progress on Bishopthorpe FC’s expensive pavilion which is in part funded from sales at Lowfields. (The pavilion and football pitches are almost complete but the promised improvement work on the adjacent cycle track has not started)

Football club pavillion

The Council’s housing department is leaderless and lacking in direction. Like much of the rest of the authority, responsible Councillors seem to be focussed on the next “photo op”.

The hard work involved in  forcing up public service standards seems to be of no interest to them.

If it was, then they would ensure that unused council houses – some of which have been empty for months and, in some cases, years – are brought back into use quickly.  

But then  “Council House Let” is unlikely to be a headline that you will see in The Guardian.

Unreliable vehicles hitting recycling collection quality in York

Recycling collections have become less reliable recently. The drop in public service quality reflects a similar drop in reliability seen last year.

Part of the problem can be traced to a lack of urgency shown by the Council in ordering replacements for an aging, worn out, fleet. Although new trucks have now been ordered there is an inevitable delay before they actually arrive in the City.

Recycling collections have been delayed on each of the last 5 days. Today Foxwood, Woodthorpe, Copmanthorpe and parts of Askham Bryan were affected.

Latest planning application 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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9 Ascot Court, Gale Lane, York YO24 3AE

Installation of balcony to first floor rear elevation and replace existing window with French doors

Reference   20/01877/FUL

Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning online web site.  http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received

Road works set to close Gale Lane and Cornlands Road in October/November

City of York Council will be carrying out essential roadworks on key roads in York including, Cornlands Road, Bad Bargain Lane and Gale Lane, throughout October and November.

The council has worked with trade unions and its supply chain to enable the authority to develop new ways of working during the pandemic. This has ensured works on the highway can happen in a safe way for front line operatives and the public.

The contractor has permission from the local authority to undertake this essential work at this time.

For more info about current roadworks in York visit www.york.gov.uk/roadworks

The Council says that the following works are being undertaken:

Gale Lane

We will be carrying out road maintenance works at Gale Lane from 2 November for 5 days, weather permitting. Work will be carried out between 9am – 5pm working Monday to Friday only.

It is only a few months since Gale Lane was last closed for road works

In order to carry out the work safely, the use of a full road closure from, but not including, the mini roundabout at Thanet Road up to the junction of St Stephens Road will be necessary whilst works are taking place.

We will also be carrying out kerbing and drainage works on 29th October for a period of 2 days working 9am – 4pm. These works will be carried out under local traffic management, will not affect access and the road will be open as normal. Parking will be suspended in sections to enable us to carry out the works.

All on-street parking will be suspended during the hours of the works for the full duration, but specific access requirements can be arranged by speaking to the site Traffic Management Operatives, who will coordinate with residents (and business requirements) around the ongoing work operations.

Cornlands Road

We will be carrying out road maintenance works at Cornlands Road from 26 October 2020 for a period of 3 days (weather permitting). The works will be carried out between 9am – 5pm.

In order to carry out the work safely, the use of a full road closure from, but not including, the mini roundabout at Gale Lane up to the junction of St Stephen’s Road will be necessary whilst works are taking place.

All on-street parking will be suspended during the hours of the works for the full duration, but specific access requirements can be arranged by speaking to the site Traffic Management Operatives, who will coordinate with residents (and business requirements) around the ongoing work operations.

Bad Bargain Lane

We will be carrying out road maintenance works at Bad Bargain Lane from 26 October. Work is expected to take 5 days, weather permitting. Work will be carried out between 9am – 5pm working Monday to Friday only. In order to carry out the work safely, the use of a full road closure from, but not including, the junction of Meadlands up to, and including, the junction of Burnholme Grove will be necessary whilst works are taking place.

All on-street parking will be suspended during the hours of the works for the full duration, but specific access requirements can be arranged by speaking to the site traffic management operatives, who will coordinate with residents and business requirements around the ongoing work operations.

Bus Service 11 will be diverted via East Parade straight on to Heworth Village, Hempland Lane, Stockton Lane, Algarth Rd and Ashley Park Rd.

We will also be carrying out kerbing and drainage works on 19 October for a period of 5 days working 9am – 4pm Monday to Friday only. These works will be carried out under local traffic management, will not affect access and the road will be open as normal. Parking will be suspended in sections to enable us to carry out the works.

Lincoln Court independent living apartments completed

A development of 35 apartments on Ascot Way has now officially been completed by the council. It offers older residents “high-quality apartments where they can live independently and well”.

Nominations invited for new Lincoln Court apartments

Opening Lincoln Court is the latest phase of City of York Council’s Older Persons Accommodation Programme and the apartments are available for new and returning tenants. The council will be operating a local lettings system which will enable tenants in the west of the city to downsize into these bright modern homes.

The £3.4 million project offers 15 new build and 20 completely refurbished one-bedroomed apartments.

All the generously-sized homes are available for social rent by eligible people aged 60 and over or who have a specific need for this type of accommodation. This is the council’s first independent living community extension designed specifically to meet the needs of wheelchair users.

The development has a large communal lounge, meeting rooms and a salon which people living in or outside the scheme can use, and it has a communal kitchen where residents can prepare meals and enjoy them in company if they choose. A new guest suite for visiting family and friends of tenants will help maintain family links. All of these facilities will be available along with a range of social activities once restrictions on their use and socialising in groups are lifted.

Facilities include two on-site laundries and a buggy store, there is a good choice of shops, cafes, health facilities and parks nearby. Lincoln Court’s newly landscaped gardens are next to the open spaces of historic Hob Moor nature reserve which is overlooked by the new balconies on the first and second floors.

The apartments can be bid for via North Yorkshire Home Choice at www.northyorkshirehomechoice.org.uk/.

You can find out more about independent living with City of York Council at www.york.gov.uk/IndependentLiving

Please contact one of our friendly advisers for more information by email at ILCextracare@york.gov.uk or phone at 01904 554095. 
 

Acomb Front Street store set to close?

It looks like the popular Peacocks store on Front Street will shortly be closing.

Peacocks is part of a group which includes The Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Jaeger. It was reported last week that the group was in financial difficulties.

So far, shops in the Front Street area have generally managed to survive quite well the pandemic restrictions, with one long term empty property, near Morrisons, set to reopen shortly.

There was, however, some criticism of the authorities when it was revealed recently that a consultant, appointed to report on the remodelling and future marketing of the area nearly 12 months ago, had not yet started work.

A suggestion that, for one or two days each week, the pedestrian restrictions should be eased to allow vehicular access for disabled shoppers, was also ignored.

York Councils strange priorities

Work has started on digging up the Tadcaster Road highway again.

Yesterday workers were ripping up the surface of The Mount prior to moving on down Tadcaster Road.

Initially new gas main pipes will be installed. These will be followed by the new drainage channels which should have been provided in the spring when the carriageway was last dug up.

The scheme can be contrasted with other urgently needed repairs elsewhere in west York.

School Street was reported this week for the umpteenth time only for the Council to respond saying that “no further work is required”

School Street area – a patchwork of potholes and faded white lines

Public service standards improving in York

Good to see that some street level public service standards are improving in west York. As we observed some months ago, the health crisis caused a rethink on street cleansing with a neighbourhood management approach producing better results. This has improvement has generally been sustained

The York Council had a challenging time in 2019 when parts of the City were blighted by weeds following the award of a poorly specified treatment contract. This year the streets have been largely clear of weed growth following the award of a new £58,000 contract to Munro Weed Control.

There are still some problem areas (snickets, back lanes, garage forecourts) but generally standards have improved.

Some progress seems to have been made on long term, seemingly intractable, problems such as rubbish storage and fly tipping in the Front Street back lane area. Notices have now been displayed indicating the penalties for fly tipping. Most rubbish storage areas are now tidier although there are some exceptions

Less good news on highways maintenance. There are still too many uneven road surfaces including long outstanding problems in the School Street area in the Acomb. White line repainting is also behind schedule.

The Councils new graffiti removal service has been successful although utility boxes and some private boundaries are still subject to attack. The utilities in particular take a long time to clean their boxes. We’d like to see the Council team undertaking this work and more effort being made to fine those who are responsible.

Good to see local bus shelters have been repainted. Missing or damaged perspex panels need to be replaced at some locations
Anti social behaviour has been an increasing problem in some neighbourhoods recently

Building site on Ascot Way being wound down

It seems that completion of work at both the new disabled centre and a remodelled Lincoln Court will shortly be competed. The builders equipment is being removed and the compound on the school land and the MUGA are almost clear.

New Lincoln Court entrance is imposing
Despite being largely clear of equipment, it seems unlikely that public use of the games area will be allowed.
This is the replacement site on Thanet Road slated to be the home of the new games area. However discussions about the project have dragged on for nearly 2 years.

The has been no recent update from the York Council on when they expect the communal housing, self build, health centre, older persons accommodation, public buildings and community facilities on their Lowfield development to be completed (or even in most cases started!)