York Central

Residents will wake up this morning to discover that the York central development has passed another milestone. It now has the necessary planning permissions to permit a start to be made on site.

A Public Inquiry will still be held to determine whether Leeman Road near the Railway Museum can be stopped up.

Overall the development should provide a welcome boost for jobs and homes in the City.

The Council has, however, failed to recognise the importance of “first impressions” and the practicalities of accessing the site by various modes of transport.

The proposed one way system through the Leeman Road tunnel is ridiculous. It means more congestion and a cycle ride which will be both awkward and – in wet weather – unnecessarily unpleasant.

The access from Wilton Rise is hopeless for all but the fittest cyclists and is totally inaccessible for the disabled. The promised new cycle bridge from Chancery Rise should have been incorporated in the latest planning application but no Councillor seems to have had the guts to highlight the issue.

So off to a bad start then.

Lets hope the developers come up with some solutions to these issues before the new properties are occupied.

Footsteets to be extended to aid social distancing and “kickstart” York’s economic recovery

York’s footstreets are set to be extended from 15 June. The main impact will be on disabled access.

“City of York Council is extending York’s footstreets from 15 June to increase pedestrian zones within the city centre and support local businesses by providing residents more space to social distance, making access to city centre shops and businesses easier”.

There has been no consultation on the proposals

“The actions are designed to support the council’s Economic Recovery – Transport and Place Strategy, to build resident, visitor and stakeholder confidence that York is a safe, healthy and attractive place for everyone.

York has one of the largest pedestrian zones in Europe, with many areas within York’s city centre already designated as pedestrian footstreets.

In line with the Government relaxing the restrictions for retailers this month, pedestrian zones will be extended to include the following streets:

  • Goodramgate (between Deangate and King’s Square)
  • King’s Square
  • Church Street
  • Colliergate
  • Blake Street
  • St Helen’s Square
  • Lendal
File:Blake Street, York - geograph.org.uk - 1059330.jpg ...
Blake Street pre lockdown

The core footstreet rules will apply to the extension area, including no vehicles being allowed to access, or park on, these streets, including deliveries between 10.30am and 5pm.

During the footstreet times, barriers (staffed for an initial period) will be in place in Goodramgate and Blake Street to control access, but emergency vehicles and the Dial-a-Ride vehicle will be permitted access at all times.

The council is exploring a further extension of the hours in to the evening, to coincide with the reopening of the hospitality sector, alongside encouraging the safe return of residents and visitors by considering incentivised short stay parking in some of the city’s car parks”. 

Blue Badge holders can, as has always been the case, park for free in any council car park and can take advantage of using disabled bay spaces in Council car parks too. For more information on council car parks visit www.york.gov.uk/parking

Blue Badges

The council is also exploring where it can create additional capacity for Blue Badge holders elsewhere in the city by the 15 June, and provide further support. 

This will include shop-mobility type assistance and additional replacement disabled bays at Monk Bar Car Park. Guides will be available to direct people to other car parks and provide on the day information about car parking availability. 

Sparks container village – deadline for disabled access lift passes

Street “art” still dominates Piccadilly

Anyone expecting to see the disabled lift installed at the Sparks site on Piccadilly may be disappointed. Users say that it is still missing despite public promises made to the planning committee in August that it would be available for use by the end of September.

The same meeting was told that the project was highly successful. Others have,however, claimed that many of the original tenants have now quit the site, with only alcohol sales thriving.

Anyone expecting to see the street art graffiti removed from the Piccadilly frontage will also be disappointed. There is no sign of the cladding which should have been provided before the site opened in April.

Sparks have enjoyed beneficial occupation of the site since September 2017

Responses by Council officials to a series of Freedom of Information requests by local architect Matthew Laverack may give rise to even more concern.

The requests probe the role of the York Council as the landlord for the site. They agreed that the shipping containers could be put on the land despite pressure to advertise the site for permanent development. Many regarded the terms of the deal as generous with the Council pitching around £60,000 into the project.

Insurance requirements in the lease have apparently not been met and the Council’s building control section haven’t signed off the site as complete.

The mainstream media have been very quiet about these planning and lease breaches, while the Councils planning enforcement team has so far been wholly ineffective.

The contract allows for the Council to take back the site if, after 21 days, the tenants have failed to pay the rent or complied with their obligations under the Lease.

The Council will likely face an Ombudsman referral unless it gets its act together

NB Empty properties nearby are being offered free of charge on a short-term lease to voluntary organisations. There have been no takers.

Woodthorpe school report on “pupil premium” success to be discussed next week

Disabled access arrangements also being scrutinised

A report from Woodthorpe primary school, indicating how they have used the LibDem inspired pupil premium funding initiative, forms part of the background papers for a meeting next week.

The school received a supplementary payment of over £130,000 last year which was used to raise the achievement levels of children from poorer backgrounds.

The Woodthorpe review  forms part of a wider report which looks at how the “attainment gap” can be closed across the whole of the City.

A special committee had been told  that, by the age of 19, the gap in attainment between disadvantaged young people (as defined by them being in receipt of Free School Meals at age 15) and their peers in York were among the widest anywhere in the country

Disabled access

The meeting will also receive a report on how access arrangements for people with disabilities can be improved particularly at leisure venues.