7 flats proposed for empty storage space above Front Street shops

Latest Planning applications 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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Acomb

None

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Westfield

1 - 9 Front Street

1 – 9 Front Street

Location:       1 – 9 Front Street York

Proposal:       Conversion of vacant first floor retail space to 7 apartments with external alterations including replacement windows, cladding and rear entrance

click to access

click to access

Site location map click to access

Site location map click to access

Ref No: 15/00178/FUL

Applicant:      Mr John Skelton  Contact Mr Dean Starkey  Consultation Expiry Date        16 March 2015 Case Officer:   Victoria Bell   Expected Decision Level DEL

This is the block next to the new Boyes store which is currently being renovated.  The plan to provide more homes linked to the reuse of empty space will be welcomed by many, and would make a contribution to our Acomb regeneration project.

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Location:       All Wrapped Up 9 Front Street York YO24 3BW

Proposal:       Change of use from shop (use class A1) to restaurant/ cafe(use class A3)

Ref No: 15/00067/FUL

Applicant:      Mr Simon Ryde   Contact Mr Dean Starkey Consultation Expiry Date        16 March 2015  Case Officer:   Victoria Bell   Expected Decision Level DEL

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Location:       17 The Gallops York YO24 3NF

Proposal:       Erection of boundary fence

Ref No: 15/00180/FUL

Applicant:      Mr Ian Wright   Consultation Expiry Date        16 March 2015 Case Officer:   Sandra Duffill  Expected Decision Level DEL

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Location:       2 Otterwood Bank York YO24 3JS

Proposal:       Single storey side extension and conversion of garage to habitable room

Ref No: 15/00189/FUL

Applicant:      Mrs C Leach     Contact Mr Paul Butler  Consultation Expiry Date        16 March 2015 Case Officer:   Sandra Duffill  Expected Decision Level DEL

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Location:       3 Osprey Close York YO24 2YE

Proposal:       Crown reduce by 2m to Shape Oak Tree protected by Tree Preservation Order No.: 26

Ref No: 15/00332/TPO

Applicant:      Mr Tony Fairburn        Contact Mr David Gregory        Consultation Expiry Date        16 March 2015 Case Officer:   Esther Priestley        Expected Decision Level

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

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

Boyes to take over empty superdrug store in Acomb

Boyes have announced they are moving into Acomb, taking over the former Superdrug building which has been vacant for a number of years.

11-15 Front Street

11-15 Front Street

Sue Hunter, who is Chair of the local trader’s group Acomb Alive! established to help local businesses work together, develop the area and support one another, added: “The position of the building close to both Morrison’s and the junctions of Green Lane and Front Street has long cast a blight on the good work we are all doing in the area, particularly the events staged by the smaller, independent traders.

“Having this shop open and doing business again will provide a boost for Acomb in terms of both confidence and footfall. We are all looking forward to working with Boyes and involving them in the activities we are developing for Acomb for the year ahead”.

Andrew Boyes, Director of the Company said: “We are delighted to be moving into Acomb and becoming part of the business community. We have known Acomb well for many years and have made a long-term investment in the building and the area. Boyes is here to stay and we are very much looking forward to becoming a key brand and offering excellent service to local people while attracting additional trade to the area.”

Boyes are planning to renovate their new store over the coming months and are expecting to open their new Acomb premises in Spring 2015.

Acomb Toilet closed again

Acomb toilet closed again

Acomb toilet closed again

The public convenience in Acomb has been closed again

Once again no explanation for the closure, or estimated time when the facility will reopen, has been posted by the Council.

Roof repairs were expected to be undertaken during September but there is no sign of active work retaking place on the site this week.

The Council was criticised in the spring for closing the facility without making available a portaloo or an update on the scale and timetable for the modernisation work.

The Council should not only post a notice on the building explaining what is going on, but also update its web site with details and brief the local media.

 

 

 

Acomb Business Rates discount neighbourhood identified

Superdrug Front Street

The York Council has now identified the streets that will benefit from the empty property Rates discount scheme

Empty retail properties brought back into use on Front Street, Green Lane, The Green, Wetherby Road and part of York Road will benefit from a 50% reduction in Business Rates.

The government introduced a scheme which gave Rates discounts on commercial properties that were brought into use after being empty for over 12 months.

The Council has extended that scheme to any retail property that becomes empty.

Concerns have been raised that this will benefit national chains that could pay half the Rates of local independent competitors for as long as 18 months.

As a letter to the local newspaper explained, far from helping independent retailers this could signal their death knell.

Figures released last week show that there are now only a handful of properties currently empty in the Acomb Front Street area.

However, with leases now changing hands regularly as the economy improves, it seems that this well intentioned initiative may be both costly to taxpayers and harmful to many existing traders.

Acomb Business Rates discount

Mystery deepens over Council decision as FOI response reveals only 4 empty units may be affected.

11-15 Front Street

11-15 Front Street

The Labour Cabinet came under fire earlier in the month when it nodded through a proposal to give 50% Rates relief to any empty property in the “Acomb” area that was brought back into use.

Now the Councils list of empty retail (and commercial) properties in the YO24 and YO26 area has been published.

The list reveals that the main “problem” property (which is also very prominent) is 11 – 15 Front Street (part of which was formerly occupied by Superdrug). We understand that the property was sold be the Coop Bank a couple of years ago and is now understood to be back on the market.

Many will feel that this site needs redeveloping although what Rates discount would apply to new properties remains unclear.

As we have said before, there is a good case for improving on the government scheme which gives a Rates discount on re-occupied properties which have been empty for more than 12 months.

However if discounts apply from day one then this could rightly be regarded as unfair competition by existing traders.

It was pointed out at the time, that the area of benefit was ill defined and – if it was intended to boost the Front Street area – then it needed to be focussed on longer term empty properties.

With the recession now ending it appeared that most shops had either been occupied or were under offer. Some prime sites are now understood to be changing hands at a premium.

The LibDems submitted the following comments to the meeting earlier in the month

The Liberal Democrat Group was disappointed that the Labour Cabinet did not support a comprehensive regeneration proposal for Front Street at July’s full Council.

 This proposal, which uses powers given to Councils by the Coalition Government, seems to have been cobbled together in a rush – as the rewrites in the paper published on the council website indicate. Key details such as which exact area the discount will apply within are missing (the council papers refer only to “Acomb”). The paper does not explain why the scheme is restricted to retail premises (the similar Government scheme refers to all businesses) and it does not explain how temporary ‘pop-up’ units will affect entitlements.

 We would also like further information on how the process will work given the September deadline for applications. The concern that the discount could be used by national chains, moving into prime sites immediately as leases become available, is not addressed and no alternative proposals are considered e.g. focusing discounts on properties which have been empty for over 3 months (business rates are not payable on a commercial property for the first 3 months that it is empty).

 The Council needs to act promptly to clear u the confusion caused by its decision

Rates discount plan for Acomb may miss target

Dumping on Acomb shops car park

Dumping on Acomb shops car park

The Council may decide on Tuesday to introduce a 50% discount on Business Rates for any “empty” shop brought back into use in “Acomb”. The discount would apply for up to 18 months.

The Council still continues in a state of denial about public service standards in the Front Street area.

Weeds, potholes, litter and graffiti all add to the “run down” appearance of parts of the area.

Weeds taking over several streets in Acomb

Weeds taking over several streets in Acomb

Now the economic recovery is well established  properties are already being brought back into use. There are currently only 3 premises in “Acomb” which have been empty for 12 months or more.

The proposed discount scheme is similar to that introduced by the Coalition Government last autumn which awards 50% relief after a shop, that has been empty for 12 months, is reoccupied.

The Coalition Government had previously given powers in April 2012 to Councils who wished to extend Rate discount schemes to commercial premises. Quite why it has taken the York Council over 2 years to consider using these powers in Front Street has not been explained.

The Council will now consider making the 50% discount available to premises from the moment that they become empty. Although it is intended to fill the gap in provision for the period up to 12 months (when the mandatory government scheme kicks in) there is clearly a flaw in using taxpayers money to subsidise national chains who move into  prime sites immediately leases become available.

No doubt their shareholders would be delighted to receive a profits boost of this sort while existing shops might rightly brand the subsidy as unfair competition.

A more sensible approach would be for the Council to focus its discounts on properties which have been empty for over 3 months.

Business rates are not payable on a commercial property for the first 3 months that it is empty anyway.

Empty properties with a rateable value of under £2,600 are entirely exempt from Business Rates

The terms for the discounts in what the Council labels the “Acomb Business Development District” appear to have been thrown together in some haste.

  • The area that the discount will apply within is not defined (the Council papers refer only to “Acomb”)
  • The Council scheme is restricted to retail premises. The government scheme applies to all businesses
  • It is unclear how the temporary occupation of shops (so called “pop up” units, display only exhibitions and voluntary organisation use) will affect entitlements.
  • Para 15 of the paper suggests that applications have to be linked to “the three ambitions set out above” These refer to young enterprises, listed buildings and re-locations
  • The paper also suggests that applications will only be considered once a year with a September deadline (!)

Footnote

  • Small retailers are entitled to £1000 off their Rates (Rateable value of £50,000 or less) although not all traders have, as yet, applied for this discount.
  • Rates relief is available for existing small businesses (premises with a Rateable value of less than £12,000)
  • Charities and amateur community sports clubs get at least 80% Rates relief