Lincoln Court – Council admits planning blunder

The sorry saga surrounding the Councils plans to modernise and extend the Lincoln Court independent living building on Ascot Way has taken a new twist.

A brand new planning application has been submitted. If approved, it will replace the ill fated and poorly judged proposal passed by the Planning Committee as recently as December. The new proposal is for a “three storey extension to accommodate 15 new flats with associated alterations to the internal layout of existing flats (creating 10 new flats in total), a single storey front extension to form a new main entrance, erection of a plant room to side, reconfiguration of parking provision and associated landscaping works including new boundary fencing”.

Planning report Dec 2018

That decision was criticised because it ignored a request by Sport England that a replacement all weather games facility be provided in the neighbourhood when the existing facility was developed. The extensions to Lincoln Court are partly to be built on the games area. Sport England made a specific request for a replacement with possible sites being identified by local residents on the new area of playing field being provided at the school or alternatively on the Thanet Road sports area.

Another mistake made by the committee was to require that the additional 10 flats being provided at Lincoln Court be extra care” units. They would have required 24/7 staffing support. Officials later privately confirmed that this was a mistake and that it had been intended to provide an additional 10 flats identical in function to those existing on the site.

The “extra care” argument had been used to justify providing only 16 parking spaces to service the planned 36 flats and the staff and visitors to the much larger new building (see extract from December report). There are currently 12 parking spaces allocated to Lincoln Court. Many of them are heavily used with visiting staff sometimes being force to park on adjacent roads.

The way that the Planning Committee handled the December application was subject to a formal complaint in December. A response from the Council is still awaited.

Unfortunately, the new planning application does not address the parking issue despite claims by officials that the ”extra care” units did not require a parking space and hence could justify providing only 16 spaces. There is an underused grassed area to the south of the site which could have matrix protection installed and which could then be used as overspill car parking.

More seriously, the Council continues to turn a blind eye to the concerns about lack of provision for younger people in the neighbourhood. We would expect the Sport England condition to be incorporated into any revised permission.

NB. No action is planned on escalating traffic congestion issues in the area. Problems on the narrow roads in the estate are being exacerbated by recent planning permissions for additional housing in the estate which only has one access route. The December plan attracted more criticism when it was revealed that the elderly residents would have to move out of their homes for over 12 months while the work took place

Ascot Way electricity sub station application recommended for approval

Proposed sub station site

Officials are recommending that a new electricity sub station on Ascot Way be given the go ahead at a meeting  which is scheduled to take place on 10th Dec

The application had caused some controversy when first publicised as some residents feared it could lead to an increase in crime.

The sub station will reduce the width of the footpath to the rear entrance to Hob Moor school.

Meanwhile there has been no response from the Council yet to complaints about the way in which the planning application for the Lincoln Court redevelopment was handled.

Sport England asked for the all weather games area to be replaced if the existing facility is bulldozed. The condition was omitted when the planning decision was published.

Later it emerged that the Council had included a condition requiring the additional 10 flats on the site to be used for “extra care” facilities.

Extra care beds require 24/7 staffing support the provisional of which would be economically unsustainable for such a small unit.

The plan could also have significant  transport implications for the area.

 

Lincoln Court redevelopment – more confusion

Lincoln Court

The York Council has now formally issued its planning decision on the application to remodel and extend Lincoln Court on Ascot Way.

The plans for the  “independent living” block of flats attracted controversy before Christmas when it was revealed that residents will have to move out to allow work to be completed.

This decision was in conflict with assurances given during consultation meetings held earlier in the year.

Now the conditions issued for the planning decision reveal that the 10 new units planned for the site will be “extra care” beds. Condition 12 of the permission states that this will ensure that the flats are not subject to “right to buy” legislation.

Extra care facilities involve 24/7 support and are currently provided by the Council at buildings like Marjorie Waite Court. Because of the staffing demands, the facilities require a “critical mass” of users to make them economic. 10 bedrooms falls far short of the numbers required to sustain such levels of support.

The users of extra care facilities rarely have their own transport and thus have reduced needs for parking provision (although their carers are likely to need some provision).

On the other hand, the car park at Lincoln Court is already congested and the addition of 10 additional flat units will stretch it to breaking point. The current plans do not allow for a rear access to the potential overflow parking – and delivery access – available at the adjacent school car parks.

Officials speaking at the planning committee meeting in December said that the new flats would offer the same facilities as those already in use in the building.

We think that too many mistakes have been made with this project.  

There is now confusion over when residents will be able to return to their homes, over the function of the 10 new units which will be provided and over the future of the all-weather games area which Sport England says should be replaced elsewhere if it is bulldozed.

The planning application should be referred back to the planning committee for these issues,  and problems with traffic congestion, to be clarified and resolved.

 

Dismay as elderly residents told they must quit their homes for 12 months

Council apology for Lincoln Court tenants

Lincoln Court

The council has apologised to Lincoln Court tenants ahead of a £1.4m scheme to improve and extend the independent living scheme.

While the modernisation of the independent living scheme on Ascot Way had been generally welcomed, tenants had been assured that the necessary modernisation work – which includes the provision of new double glazed windows – could be completed while they remained in their flats.

Now the Council has reversed the assurances that were given during the consultation meetings earlier in the year.

Other aspects of the work are also proving to be controversial.

The amount of car parking being provided is inadequate.

No rear access is being provided to the new development which would have offered access to overflow parking at the school as well as a route for emergency and delivery vehicles.

Planning Councillors acted against the wishes of Sport England in agreeing to demolish the all weather games area (MUGA) without providing a replacement. This omission likely to be the subject of a formal complaint

The Council statement reads, “Following detailed design work and site surveys to modernise and enlarge Lincoln Court, the project’s contractor and health and safety specialist has advised it would not be safe for any of the work to be completed while the building remains occupied.

As the landlord, the council has taken the difficult decision that all Lincoln Court tenants must be moved to suitable, alternative accommodation for the duration of the work. All tenants have received an apology from the council for this unexpected disruption.

Tenants, the executive member for housing and a ward councillor attended a meeting with staff this afternoon. This will be followed by one-to-one conversations with each tenant about their needs and preferences for alternative accommodation.

Michael Melvin, interim corporate director of health, housing and adult social care at City of York Council, said:

“We apologise to all our tenants for this unexpected and disappointing level of disruption. Moving everyone to safe and suitable alternative accommodation by the end of May 2019 is now our priority.

“While 10 new homes will be added to the scheme, and the building improved for the long-term benefit of older people in the city, we regret the degree of upheaval the present tenants will face.

“In addition to today’s meeting we have written to all tenants within the scheme and are going beyond our legal obligations to support them through this time. We have offered tenants the option of moving on a permanent basis, or to return to Lincoln Court when the refurbishment is completed.

“We will also provide practical and financial support, and will arrange and pay for every tenant’s move. This will include moving their belongings and bringing their new home up to the decorative and furnished standard of their flat at Lincoln Court.

“We are committed to making the process as well-supported as possible. Additional staff will work to find tenants alternative accommodation that best matches their needs and preferences regarding location and setting.”

With the requirement to relocate tenants established, the council is taking the opportunity to review the current design of Lincoln Court to ensure the best possible layout and accommodation to create an independent living scheme fit for the future”.

Major changes on Ascot Way & Hob Moor school playing field agreed

Council planning report was wrong on Lincoln Court extension claim

Lincoln Court. Work has started on replacing windows. Concerns about parking

Plans to provide a centre of excellence for disabled children, modernise & extend Lincoln Court and move part of the Hob Moor school playing field were approved last night.

Generally, the improvements will be welcomed.

Unfortunately, the planning committee failed to recognise and act to deal with the cumulative effects that these developments – coupled with others previously agreed – will have on transport systems in the Kingsway estate.

Embarrassed Council officials, at yesterday’s planning committee meeting, were forced to admit that the 10 additional units planned at Lincoln Court were not “extra care” beds as claimed in the Council report.

Instead they will be similar in function to the sheltered flats which form the existing development.

The distinction is a major one as extra care beds imply a much higher level of care need while the occupiers of conventional sheltered flats are more likely to own cars.

They will need somewhere to park them.

The committee declined to require that a rear entrance be provided to the new site. This would have permitted greater integration with the adjacent Hob Moor Oaks school which caters for children with disabilities and might have been used to address overflow car parking, delivery, emergency vehicles access and other transport concerns.

Nor was the committee prepared to even ask transport officials to review the cumulative impact that planning decisions are having on the Kingsway area.

It is difficult not to conclude that the Councils leadership is prepared to casually dismiss the wishes of a community which has lacked leadership since the local resident’s association folded 5 years ago.

The relatively beleaguered inhabitants of the area – amongst the poorest 10% of the population in the country according to some government statistics –  are viewed as less likely able to “raise a stink” than might their “middle England” counterparts in other parts of the City.

 Consequently, the Council has felt able to ignore their legitimate requests for improvements that have been tabled in response to successive development consultations.

Petition calls for Kingsway area road improvements

Andrew Waller who is backing the petition

A petition has been handed to the York Council demanding that roads in the Kingsway West/Ascot Way area be improved before there is any additional development in the area.

At the moment the only access to the estate – which contains over 600 homes – is via the section of Kingsway West lying between Danesfort Avenue and Ascot Way.

Residents point to congestion problems for buses, emergency vehicles, bin wagons and delivery lorries.

The numbers of off-street parking spaces has been criticised. Residents feel this will get worse following a decision to demolish garages on Newbury Avenue.

The petition was prompted by an announcement that the Lincoln Court sheltered housing building would be expanded. In addition, the adjacent Windsor Hose site will become a centre of excellence for disabled children.

The principal route into both  these developments would be along Kingsway West and Ascot Way.

Campaigners have called for a service road access to be created from the adjacent Hob Moor Oaks school site where many of the disabled children spend their school hours.

The future of the Multi User Games Area (MUGA) on Kingsway West is also under threat as officials are understood have targeted it for use as a building compound

The petition reads;

“We the undersigned request the York Council to undertake the following improvements prior to any further building work starting in the Hob Moor area

  1. Improve the access road along Kingsway West/Ascot Way, removing, where necessary, the grass verge
  2. Provide dropped kerbs or lay-by parking where this doesn’t already exist
  3. Provide alternative, modern, children’s play facilities before any existing provision is removed”.

The petition is being backed by local Councillor Andrew Waller.

The planning applications are expected to be considered by the Council at a Planning Sub Committee  meeting taking place on 6th December starting at 4:30pm

Planning application for new electricity sub station on Ascot Way causes sparks.

Proposed sub station site

A planning application has just been received by the York Council which would see a sub station built on land next to garages on Ascot Way.

It is causing concern as it would mean that the adjacent rear entrance to Hob Moor school could become very narrow and dark.

There are safety issues that will have to be addressed if this does go ahead (it is required to service the nearby disabled children’s centre project)

The application can be viewed by clicking here 

 

Weeds over grow path in Windsor Garth

Weeds growing through footpath on Windsor Garth near Sandown Close. We’ve reported the problem but it seems to be another area that has been missed off this years treatment programme

Time of year gullies need to eb checked fro blockages. We’ve asked for those on the little Green Lane footpath to be cleared of leaves

We’ve asked for the Gale Lane/Holgate beck to be cleared of detritus and undergrowth before the winter

UFO are behind schedule in reinstating concrete drives on Stuart Road

Verge and path on Foxwood lane still showing signs of damage following broadband excavations near 12 months ago

One bonus has been the renewal of the flagstones at the Hamilton Drive West bus stop. We asked for these to be done on safety grounds last year

New litter bins have been rolled out to several streets including this one on Kingsway West

We’ve asked for the garage area off Windsor Garth to be tidied up.

 

Another sports facility to close in Westfield?

Kingsway West all weather football pitch

Council officials are pressing for the neighbourhoods only Multi User Games Area (MUGA) to be permanently closed

The MUGA is located off Kingsway West and was provided at the same time as the Hob Moor school was rebuilt in 2004. It was hailed as one of the community facilities that the PFI funded new build school would unlock. It proved to be the only causal use facility provided on the campus, with other facilities like the nursery later closing.

Initially the MUGA was to have been located within the school perimeter fence. It would have been secured by caretaking staff when not in use. Following pressure from the PFI contractors the MUGA became a stand-alone facility accessible outside school hours.

It satisfied the demand for “kick about” facilities to the east of Gale Lane.

Initially it was successful with detached youth workers staging events there. However, the then Labour controlled Council shredded the youth service following budget cuts in 2013. The organised use of the MUGA ceased. Calls for the Ward Committee to fund events there failed to get off the ground.

An experiment in leaving the area open resulted in arson damage to the all-weather surface which was never repaired. The service access gate was also damaged and not reinstated by the Council.

It is now little used and often strewn with litter and detritus.

Council consultation card Sept 2018

Yet there is still a demand for play and sports facilities for use by children in the area. The nearest alternative is the Energise (Better) sports centre on Cornlands Road which is run on a commercial basis.

Typically the cost of hiring an all weather pitch for a match is around £50.

Now officials are consulting on replacing the MUGA with other structures. They suggest wooden climbing frames, tree planting and better lighting.

There is a demand for better play facilities in the area but not at the expense of existing sports facilities.

We have already seen the Our Lady’s sports field developed and more recently plans have been approved to build on the football pitch at Lowfields. The Hob Moor school playing field will be reduced in size and an application to build on the Acomb Bowling Green is being considered by the Council.

Officials promised that, as part of the Lowfields scheme, pitches on Chesney’s Field would be levelled and upgraded. But the football season* has started without any sign of improvement.

The Council acknowledge that there is already a deficiency in sports and green space provision in the Westfield area. The Councils own Local Plan identifies the existing shortfalls as 4.98 ha of outdoor sports facilities, 6.02 ha of children’s play and 2.86 ha of young persons facilities.

Life expectancy in the Westfield ward is lower than in other parts of York. This is partly put down to unhealthy lifestyles.

Council run consultation exercises were discredited by the Lowfields fiasco. Rather than asking people to record a vote in favour or in opposition to multiple options, the exercise depended on narrative responses.

These were easy to manipulate by official’s intent on justifying a particular outcome.

This must not happen again.

There is a demand for “off the streets” activities for young people. Facilities like the MUGA – if well maintained and promoted – can make a difference. The plans for the new children’s centre on Ascot Way could also unlock the potential for better play facilities for younger children.

But all age groups need to be catered for.

*NB. The Beagle FC beat Cawood 4-0 in their Chesney Field encounter on Saturday

York Council sports and open space need assessments