York Central Partnership welcomes confirmation of £77.1m funding to unlock homes, jobs and public spaces

….as Labour reveal plans to stop the project

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Labour have “called in” the decision to move forward with the York Central development. It casts new doubt on a project which has yet to receive detailed planning permission.

Labour cite post pandemic economic concerns as one of the justifications for shelving the project. They also question the conditions attached to the governments £77 million investment in the plans (see below). They apparently believe that the ambitions of the “House of Lords” have not been accommodated.

Meanwhile, the York Central Partnership has welcomed the government’s confirmation of the £77.1m funding to help to unlock the homes, better paid jobs and community spaces on the brownfield site.

The Minstry of Housing, Communities and Local government has written to the City of York Council to confirm the arrangements for the funding, which will be awarded to Homes England and Network Rail as the major landowners on the site. Under the arrangement, City of York Council will be reimbursed for the money it has committed to keep the project moving.

The funding is a major piece in a £155m funding package put together by the council working with fellow York Central Partnership members Homes England, Network Rail and National Railway Museum to fund the infrastructure works to unlock the brownfield site. The first phase of this work will include the access road bridge and spine road through the site, a pedestrian bridge on Water End and a rail link to the National Railway Museum.

Councillor Keith Aspden, leader of City of York Council, said:

“This is fantastic news for York. Our early investment and continued commitment, even during the pandemic, was essential to secure this investment.

The funding is a vital step to unlocking a £1.16bn boost to our economy, and delivering a new generation of jobs and hundreds of affordable homes, when York needs it most.

The York Central Partnership is delivering where decades of proposals have failed. Our shared vision for an ambitious development which delivers cleaner, greener growth and a fairer economy in York underpins the entire project, and we will keep playing our part to make York Central deliver for the whole city.

It’s also yet another important milestone following outline planning approval last year, funding agreements with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the York and North Yorkshire LEP.

This is the result of a lot of hard work by the York Central Partnership, and further demonstration of our commitment to an ambitious scheme which will give York the jobs and homes it needs as the outline planning application for York Central includes proposals to build up to 2,500 homes, including affordable homes, and a commercial quarter creating up to 88,000m2 of high quality office space. “

It also includes:

  • pedestrian and cycle route provision into and through the site
  • low levels of parking spaces
  • high sustainable design standards built into the design guide
  • around £15m developer contributions to deliver the sustainable transport infrastructure ensuring more bus passengers, cyclists and pedestrians.

This £155m funding package also includes £23.5m of a total of £37.2m from the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund and Leeds City Region Growth Deal, which will also fund the ambitious plans to transform the front of the railway station.

The West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund has been part-funded through the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal, a £1 billion package of Government funding to drive growth and job creation across the Leeds City Region. The aim is to create around 20,000 new jobs and add £2.4 billion a year to the economy by the mid-2030s.

City of York Council has also received a Local Growth Fund contribution of £6m from York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and agreed to borrow £35m to be repaid using retained business rates from the York Central Enterprise Zone.

Council urges Government to ‘Back York’ and enable the city to lead recovery in the region

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With the Council continuing to face significant financial challenges, City of York Council has stepped up its regional and national lobbying efforts.

The lobbying will urge the Government to seize the opportunities that are unique to York and make the city an ‘exemplar’ of driving recovery.

Since the pandemic was declared, the Council has seen demand for services increase, whilst at the same time, income has considerably fallen.  Early indications suggest that the Council is facing a £23 million* shortfall in its budget.  Over recent months, in addition to Government support, the Council has prioritised resources to support the most vulnerable in the city, as well as invested over £2 million to create local emergency funds to support the city’s businesses and residents facing financial hardship.

There are opportunities unique to York that if taken will help kick-start the economic recovery of the region. Recently it was agreed that the Council, with its partners, would develop a 10-year City Plan to enable York and the region to build back better by drawing on the city’s strengths; from utilising the biotech industry in the city, to seizing the once in a lifetime regeneration opportunity in York Central.  It is clear that, with further funding, York can go far in driving the recovery of our city and region.

That is why to truly build back better, City of York Council is urging the Government to make York an exemplar of how to lead ‘recovery’ in the North of England and the funding needed to unlock York’s potential and build on the work already taking place in the city.  With additional funding, City of York Council could:

  • Make £25 million available to further support local businesses in adapting to the crisis;
  • Enhance York’s world-renowned culture, creativity and heritage by making extra funding available to support local museums, libraries, arts and more;
  • Scale up the support on offer to residents facing financial hardship, particularly through the use of the York Financial Assistance Scheme;
  • Provide much needed funding for small charities and voluntary sector organisations who do not have the resources to fundraise themselves;
  • Speed up the delivery of critical regeneration projects and citywide infrastructure schemes, from York Central, to the dualling of York Outer Ring Road.

The campaign will support and link up with the work of other organisations and Councils who are lobbying for further funding for local authorities, including the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, IPPR North, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and more. As part of the campaign, City of York Council will also be producing a submission to the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, outlining the financial challenges for the Council, and highlighting the opportunities to invest in the city in partnership with the Government.

*The Council has not updated its budget forecast. Most of the speculative income loss relates to lower Council Tax and Business Rate income, although car parking income is down (and likely to remain so as long as parts of popular car parks remain bollarded off). The Council still intends to borrow increasing amounts of money and has made no announcements regarding any savings strategy.

York could be in line for £693,000 to fund emergency transport improvements

Figures released today suggest that the government could give York an additional £693,000 to fund post COVID sustainable transport schemes in the City.

The money will come from the “emergency active travel fund”. The indicative allocations can be read by clicking here

This would be in addition to the £193,000 already allocated

The North Yorkshire County Council could be in line to receive £1,085,000 from the same fund.

York decided to spend much of its initial allocation on a controversial road closure scheme in The Groves area.

“Extra” York highways repair funding is £1.8 million

There was some excitement last week when the government announced extra funding to tackle “pothole” repairs. The top line figure bandied around was an increase of £5.6 million.

That would have effectively doubled the York Councils highway repairs budget.

It turns out that this included already committed grants which have already been allocated to cover this years repairs programme.

The actual new money increase is £1.8 million.

Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation engineers

Even this is not additional money. As the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation has now made clear, it is simply expenditure being re categorised.

It is not the first time that a government has announced the same spending decision on multiple occasions.

Still a substantial sum but, to put it into context, last year the Council spent £1/2 million just repairing one street (Stonegate).

The sooner the Council comes up with proposals – including the use of funds delegated to wards – for the resurfacing programme for this year the better.

Roads will only get busier as the virus threat recedes and people get back to their more normal lifestyles. Road closures and subsequent delays later in the year could impede the City’s economic recovery.

There must be a sense of urgency

Government funding for “pothole” repairs May 2020

Government boost for ailing York highways

City of York Council is getting a £5.592 million grant from the government to be spent on road maintenance. It would effectively double this years resurfacing and repair budget, although the phasing of the grant hasn’t been confirmed.

York residents say the worse public service in the City is road repairs

When the Council published its repairs budget a few weeks ago it attracted criticism as many paths and carriageways – although uneven and potentially hazardous – were omitted from the programme.

The new money should allow the Council to begin to restore the highways network to standards last seen in the previous decade.

How quickly additional resurfacing capacity can be made available by the Council and its contractors remains to be seen.

We hope that the focus will be on large scale patching and complete carriageway resurfacing schemes, avoiding the prospect of hastily filled potholes reappearing when bad weather returns.

Government gives York additional £100,000 towards transport improvements

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City of York Council has been awarded an additional £100,000 from the Department of Transport, towards the city’s i-Travel York initiative.

Many residents will hope that the funding is used to repair faulty “real time” information systems indicating the Variable Message Signs on the City’s arterial routes as well as the car park availability information which has disappeared from the Council’s web site.

One of only nine local authorities to receive the funding, York successfully won the financial backing following a bid in November 2013 to deliver the government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund project ).

This council’s i-Travel York initiative was launched in 2011, made possible by £4.6 million of government funding which the council successfully bid for in 2011.

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York is first city in the UK to get electric bus makeover

Sight seeing bus on Lendal Bridge

One of York’s renowned City Sight Seeing buses will become the first double-decker bus in the country to get an electric makeover, thanks to a grant made by the Coalition government.

Reliance buses will also benefit from the same pot of funding, with the installation of new exhausts that will help reduce poor emissions in the city.

Details of the supplementary allocation were released 3 weeks ago.

A City Sight Seeing bus, operated by Transdev, will become the first double decker in the UK to be converted from diesel to pure electric with lithium ion batteries, similar to those used by mobile phones.

Converting from diesel to electric will have substantial benefits for air quality as the bus is used intensively in the city centre. The cost of the conversion will be £75k, but will save an estimated £15k a year in fuel costs.

The remaining DfT funding will be used to retrofit two diesel buses operated by Reliance, along the A19 route,with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) exhaust technology which reduces emissions of small particles.

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