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Work starts on Burnholme elderly persons accommodation

Work has stared on building a new 80 bed care home at the Burnholme site.

When completed, the Council will have the right to fill 25 of the beds

A lot of building work going on at Burnholme

Work is also proceeding on renovating sports facilities on the Burnholme site. A new library complex has already opened.

The care home being built on the Fordlands Road site (by Octopus Health care) will be completed in the summer of 2020. A site for another home has been reserved in the new York Central development.

The progress being made on these sites contrasts with other projects aimed at addressing the needs of the City’s increasing elderly population on the west of the City.

Tenders are only now being sought for the long awaited elderly persons facility on the Lowfields site. Other specialist homes on the west of the City, such as Windsor House and Lincoln Court have already been cleared of their elderly occupants.

One embarrassment for the Council, is the elderly persons home at Oakhaven. Residents were controversially moved from this building 3 years ago.

Despite some temporary uses, the building has remained largely unused ever since.

The Council has not been able to say when work on a replacement will start.

The Council says that it will start building houses at Lowfield this summer. Many will be “shared ownership” although there seems to have been little research done on the size of the market – among those on the waiting list – for this type of tenure.

There is, however, a lot of demand from older people – currently occupying large council and housing association houses – who want to “downsize” to bungalows or flats.

Work has started on constructing the Tudor Road access onto the Lowfields site. A new lay-by has been provided nearby.

While we remain critical of the Councils plan to build on the playing field at Lowfield, it also now seems that they may have got the mix of home types wrong.

There should have been more bungalows.

The issue of the Yorspace” communal housing development – which is not classified as “affordable” – has also still not been resolved.

Council election manifestos compared

6. Planning and Social Care

A draft Local Plan agreed for submission in 2011 would have seen 575 homes per annum built in the City.

10 year housing completions trend in York

Labours “Big City” approach alternative was floated in 2013.  It would have seen the City grow by 25%. Many of the houses would have been built in the Green Belt, which would have been damaged irreparably. The plan never reached the public inquiry stage.

During the last three years an average of 1131 additional homes have been provided in the City each year.

This compares to an average, over the last 10 years, of 652.

The latest Local Plan – still not adopted – envisages 790 homes a year being provided. This is still much higher than ONS projects say is necessary and would require a sustained growth in jobs, the scale of which has not been not seen since the Industrial Revolution.

Labours manifesto still advocates building in the Green Belt.

The number of York residents supported at home through care package is around 1800. About 650 residents are admitted to nursing or residential care each year. The figures are stable

Over the last 18 months the numbers of delayed discharges from hospital resulting from unavailable “care in the community” facilities has fluctuated between 4 and 11 patients.

There have been delays in the Councils elderly persons new accommodation strategy. Although some homes have closed, there has been little progress “on site” in building new facilities at Oakhaven, Lowfield, Haxby etc.

Lincoln Court and the MUGA – Sport England acts

Kingsway MUGA

Sport England have issued a formal objection to the Council’s latest plans for the Lincoln Court area. As a statutory consultee they can veto any proposals which involve the loss of sports facilities. In this case, the Councils plan to demolish the adjacent Multi User Games Area (MUGA) – without providing a replacement – has triggered the objection.

Sport England had expressed concerns about Councils plans prior to the Planning Committee meeting which took place in December. Their comments at that time were ignored by Councillors.

If the Council continues to turn a blind eye to the objection, then the planning application will have to be referred to the Secretary of State for determination.

Sport England make it clear, in their representation, that they believe an alternative games facility can be provided nearby. Residents have suggested the new school playing fields or the Thanet Road sports area as possible locations.

Several of the flats at Lincoln Court are now empty.

There is a growing concern that the building, and the adjacent Windsor House, may be empty for an extended period.

Similar Council owned buildings have been left to rot in recent years (Guildhall, Ashbank, Oakhaven, Castlegate, etc.) suggesting that the Councils property management processes need to be overhauled.

In the meantime the planning application remains open for residents to record any objections that they may have.  Email planning.comments@york.gov.uk quoting ref 19/00083/FULM

Haxby Hall elderly persons home plan hits buffers

Haxby Hall

The Haxby Hall home currently has a total capacity of 49 care beds. Within those 49 beds there is provision for approximately 35 residential care beds, eight beds for people living with dementia and up to six step down/short stay beds which are used interchangeably.

Services at the home are delivered by 51 staff (31.58 full time equivalents). When last inspected by the Care Quality Commission it was given a “good” rating 

It’s a year since the Council decided to pull out of Haxby Hall. The expectation was that a third party would take over the running of an enlarged, modernised home.

A feasibility study conducted in 2016 showed that a care home of up to 70 beds could be delivered on the site. One key issue for development was access to the site, which is constricted by the adjacent ambulance station. The plan for Haxby Hall was agreed by the Council on 7th December 2016.

A well attended supplier engagement event was held on 6 September 2017 to promote the opportunity and receive feedback on the proposal. Residents and their families were also consulted.

12 months later the proposal has been withdrawn from the Councils forward decision making programme. Difficulties in negotiating the new access are blamed for the project being shelved.

In January 2018 the then Director Martin Farren outlined the position

“The future of Haxby Hall is a key part of our Older Persons’ Accommodation Programme which looks to address the needs of York’s fast-growing older population by expanding and modernising care provision across the city.

“This report looks at options to safeguard the future of Haxby Hall older persons’ home and procure a provider who will deliver and operate improved, modern care facilities”.

The bids for the takeover were due to be received in September 2018. It was likely that residents would be decanted to other homes while work took place, with the new home scheduled to open in 2020.

No update has been given to any public meeting since then.

The latest delays follow problems at Oakhaven Elderly Persons home which has been empty for two years.

A facility scheduled to be provided at Burnholme is also understood to be delayed.

No detailed planning application has been submitted by the Council for the development of elderly persons facilities at the Lowfields site (although a, much more controversial, commercial housing development did get planning permission there a few months ago)

The Council is also pressing ahead with closing Windsor House which has specialised in providing support for those with dementia

All in all, we think that there is a need for some public reassurances about the timescales which now apply to the Councils Elderly Persons Strategy!

Empty elderly persons accommodation an increasing problem in York

Oakhaven

The enthusiasm shown by the York Council in moving elderly people out of their homes is being questioned.

Some empty Elderly Persons Homes have yet to be reused

We highlighted the neglected state of Willow House last month. It has been empty for over a year.

..but this pales to insignificance when you consider what has happened at Oakhaven on York Road.

Residents moved out of the building 3 years ago.

In 2015 the Council announced that a new facility would be built there as part of a plan to provide 525 new elderly persons places “before the end of 2018”. Work at Oakhaven was timetabled to be complete with the new facility ready for occupation by May 2018.  We said at the time “Given the Council’s shambolic record on project management, we doubt if we will see any improvements much before the end of the decade”.

More than a year ago the Council said that a new facility would not open until “2019 at the earliest”.

There is still no sign of work starting.

Oakhaven site plans published earlier in the year

In February the Councils preferred operator for a new facility Ashley House – who had been appointed in March 2017 – consulted on a proposed design but nothing more was heard about the plans.

No redevelopment timetable has been published by the Council and an update report doesn’t even figure in the Councils forward plan which cover the period up to the end of March. There will be an item on the November Executive agenda but this refers only to Lincoln Court and Glen Lodge

There has been  some short term use of the buildings to house potentially homeless people but these are now well catered for by a  new building at James Street

In the meantime, the delays will mean more pressure on hospital beds as managers struggle during the winter period to find suitable accommodation into which recovering older people can be transferred.

That was the year that was: Jan 2017 – Mar 2017

The year began with mixed news about the city centre economy. Visitor numbers were beginning to increase and would be sustained for most of the rest of the year. However, empty shops continued to blight key roads like Coney Street. 12 months later that problem remains.

The NHS continued to be a major concern during 2017. There were early problems when the number of delayed discharges remained stubbornly high. A & E waiting times were also a problem

The community Stadium would also be a recurring issue during the year. After several false dawns, a nominal start was made “on site” in December.

The cost to taxpayers remains high and there are continuing concerns about the viability of parts of the £44 million project.

It will be summer 2019 before it becomes clearer what the final costs will be and, critically, whether any ongoing taxpayers subsidy will be required.

The stadium itself,though, should now have a stable future with most of its cost being paid for through Section 106 monies which were  first brokered in 2010.

  As part of the stadium deal, the long term future of the Yearsley swimming pool was confirmed


Next up was a decision by the York Council to increase tax rates by 3.7%

Part of this was ring fenced to help deal with the  increased demands of an ageing population.

The Council also increased the rate at which roads and footpaths were being resurfaced – a policy which found favour with most York residents.

Rather less impressive was the Council’s performance in managing its stock of garages. An FOI in February revealed that large numbers were empty at a time when hundreds were on the waiting list for garages. 10  months later, and the list of blocks where there are vacancies has not changed. Yet there has still been little publicity aimed at securing a regular rental income.

House prices started to rise in the City. Even in the suburbs purchase of a starter home required someone to be earning over £30,000 a year

Some good news in February as work started on the Layerthorpe links road. It would open later in the year bringing relief to the Foss Islands Road and Heworth parts of the City

There was trouble on the west of the City. The Councils plans to develop the Lowfields playing field attracted major objections. As part of the project an alternative elderly persons home had been planned for the Oakhaven site on York Road. and the Council announced a contractor for the project.

The plan remains on the back burner with controversy extending to plans to relocate the Acomb Police station and demolish the adjacent Carlton Tavern.  Doubts about the future of the Tavern continue into 2018

The first in a series of revelations, about the way in which the Council appointed contractors to deliver policies, became public. It appeared that a consultant was appointed on a “results” basis contract. The result required was the delivery of the Lowfields redevelopment…. irrespective of the views of local residents.

Another long running saga started when auditors questioned the way in which the last Labour led Council had appointed consultants. Some Councillors insisted on the report being made public. This was done, but in a redacted format. Later in the year a copy was leaked to the media with the names of the people concerned included. This was to lead to a major row which even today looks like it could end the coalition agreement which has run the Council since 2015.

 

The Authorities neglected problems with vehicle speeds. The 20-mph speed limit project had failed with average speeds, on some roads with the new lower limit, having increased. Many flashing speed warning signs were found to be faulty. The North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner decided to double the number of speed vans on the streets of the county. It later transpired that they were deployed mainly on trunk roads where they were pretty much guaranteed to catch large numbers of speeders. In turn drivers were charged to attend “awareness” courses, the income from which was used to pay for the vans. The Police, in response to an FOI request, said that they didn’t monitor whether average speed levels at camera sites were reducing. Neither could they say whether the number of accidents on the same stretches of road had reduced. Meanwhile, in sub-urban areas the promised “reassurance” visits from the vans, never materialised. 

The Council was having a difficult time keeping its signs in working order. After 3 years, City centre “Variable Message Signs” were repaired but the car parking space availability signs are still not working despite faults being discovered in 2014. 

The Council got planning permission for its £12 million scheme to redevelop the Guildhall complex. Unfortunately it couldn’t find a commercial partner for the plan so the considerable risk for the project will fall on taxpayers. Work on the project has just started.

The Planning committee had a mixed year. It had earlier approved an ugly visitor centre at Cliffords Tower. This decision led to a judicial review with the fate of the centre still in doubt.

Nearby they gave planning permission for an Art Barge which was to be moored on the Ouse. Warnings about the wisdom of mixing alcohol and river safety were ignored. The barge was last seen moored in the Foss basin.

But perhaps the biggest planning controversy of the year concerned the shipping container village on Piccadilly.  As we will see in the next part of our review of the year, the containers arrived but the customers did not. 

In the west of the City, York High school got a poor OFSTED report. Later the head teacher was to resign and plans to turn the school into an “academy” were revealed. 

One change that did go through, with relatively few problems, were revisions to recycling collection days.

On 1st April areas which did not have wheeled bins were also added the system for the first time. 

Carlton Tavern to be demolished

..as Council prepares to oppose development plans for former Sugar Works on Boroughbridge Road

Planning committee Councillors voted last night to approve a proposal to demolish the Carlton Tavern and replace it with an elderly care facility.  Ironically the decision was taken on the casting vote of a Chairman who would not have been in that position had he not been arbitrarily removed from his Executive post in September by the Council Leader.  With a different Chair, the decision might have gone the other way, although the applicants would no doubt feel that they would have had a good chance of winning the inevitable subsequent appeal.

Next up, in an important series of planning decisions pending on the Acomb side of the City, is consideration of plans for the Sugar Works and former Manor school site on Boroughbridge Road.

The Council has dithered for over 3 years in getting this, apparently ideal, brown field housing site off the drawing board. The owners finally lost patience and have appealed to the Secretary of State to intervene on grounds of “non-determination” by the York Council. The planning application was first submitted in 2014.

Consultation had started in 2013

Bizarrely the Planning committee must now formally say whether they would have approved the application had it been presented to them.

They are being asked to consider “the development of the site comprising up to 1,100 residential units, community uses (D1/D2) and new public open space with details of access (to include new access points at Millfield Lane and Boroughbridge Road and a new link road, crossing the Former Manor School Site) and demolition of the Former Manor School buildings”

Officials are recommending that the proposal be opposed.

They list many deficiencies in the plan while acknowledging that the site was slated for housing development in the Draft Local Plan tabled in 2011 (by the then LibDem led Council), by the Labour Council in their 2014 Draft Local Plan and again by the new Coalition administration last year.

The main reasons for refusing the application are listed as:

  • Inadequate financial contributions toward pre-school, primary school, secondary school funding and off-site sports provision
  • The absence of any affordable housing

There has been a lot of talk recently about allocating the former Manor School playing field as a public park. In 2012 the then Labour controlled Council identified the need for a more central area of public open space as part of a “community hub” on the site.

Over 9 ha is identified in the current proposals for this purpose (In addition an “off site” new cricket pitch will be provided).

In 2013 the Council sold the former Manor School site, including the playing fields, to ABF – the current planning applicants. The sale was not conditional.

At the very least, the planning meeting should determine whether centralised or peripheral open space is the desired way forward for this development.

NB Proposals to develop the Lowfields playing fields will go before the Planning committee in January.

Applications are also expected soon for the former Oakhaven elderly persons home site on Acomb Road, the adjacent police buildings and for the redevelopment of Windsor House in Ascot Way

Windsor House to close

Shock as Ascot Way elderly persons home faces early axe

The media are claiming today that Windsor House will be the next home to be closed by the City of York Council.

Although the closure is not unexpected, it had been anticipated that the home would remain open until alternative facilities were provided in the Acomb area.

Originally the plan had been to offer residents places at a brand-new care village which was to have been built on the former Lowfields school site. That project is running 5 years behind schedule and does not yet even have planning permission.

Another option – to replace the facility on the Oakhaven site – also is running behind schedule.

The Council is putting most of its effort and money into the east of the city. The sale of the Windsor House site – and parcels of land at Lowfields – will be used to finance a big home and leisure complex at Burnholme.

Windsor House residents, and their relatives, are likely to be very angry if places cannot be provided in Acomb to ensure that links with families and friends are sustained.

Some of the 34 members of staff at the home may face redundancy although, as there is a chronic shortage of care staff in the City, most will have a choice of alternative jobs should they choose to remain in the sector.

The closure would mean that the last Council run elderly persons home in the Westfield Ward would close. There is a private home on Gale Lane.

The sheltered accommodation at places like Gale Farm and Lincoln Court are not directly affected by the decision.

Council confirms closure of Woolnough House elderly persons home

Woolnough House

 A Council statement reads, “as part of our drive to improve the quality and choice of care for older people in the city, we are consulting with residents of Woolnough House on its future.

Residents, their relatives and staff at one of City of York Council’s older people’s homes – Woolnough House – are being consulted on the option to close the home in late 2017, as part of plans to modernise accommodation for older people in the city.

The plans seek to address the needs of York’s fast-growing older population, by providing modern facilities which allow high quality care and quality of life. It also aims to make the best use of the city’s existing extra care housing, making it more accessible for people with higher care needs by increasing the support available at each venue and by replacing the council’s four out-dated older people’s homes, with more modern accommodation”.

The news comes as work nears completion on 25 new extra care apartments and two bungalows at Glen Lodge in Heworth.

Each of the council’s older people’s homes was assessed against a number of criteria to determine which homes should be consulted on for closure first.

Three older people’s homes – Grove House, Oakhaven and Willow House – closed in the past 17 months as part of the programme.
(more…)

Carlton Tavern sale set to be halted

Carlton Tavern

Council officials are recommending that the Carton Tavern pub be listed as an “asset of community value“. If approved at a meeting taking place next week, the listing would give the local community 6 months in which to raise sufficient funds to purchase the property.

Marstons – the owners of the Tavern – announced last month that the site had been sold and that a care home would be built there.

There are similar plans for the nearby Oakhaven site.

The community value application has been submitted by a group calling themselves the “Friends of  the Carlton” . It is unclear what financial backing they have and they may face an uphill battle in the limited time available to raise the estimated £700,000 which would be needed to secure the future of the pub. They quote extensive community use as one of the justifications for the listing although this is disputed by the brewery.

Marstons letter of objection to the listing can be read by clicking here.

The decision meeting is taking place on Thursday 6th April

The care home plan has not yet received planning approval