It looks like the proposal to construct a Roman visitor attraction on Rougier Street is set to get planning permission next week.
The old Northern House 1960’s office block will be demolished and replaced with 211 apartments, new offices and the Roman history visitor attraction at ground floor level.
The proposed Roman attraction, which has a working title of Eboracum, would based on archaeological discoveries from a two-year dig on the site. It would be three times the size of the Jorvik attraction and is aiming to attract 500,000 visitors per year.
At its maximum height the new building will be of a similar height to the tallest point of the Aviva building and the Malmaison Hotel to either side.
There are a number of objections mainly relating to the size of the proposed building. There are also a large number (69) of letters of support.
Details of the application which will be determined on 24th February can be read by clicking here
The application is recommended for approval.
The development is expected to bring a major jobs boost the the City in the wake of the economic problems caused by the pandemic.
The same meeting is expected to approve the replacement of the Haxby Hall care home with a new 65 bedroomed residential and dementia care facility.
The new care home would be managed by Yorkare Homes Ltd.
The application, which is recommended for approval, says that the existing ambulance station building will be retained.
The plans have been welcomed by social care professionals who comment,
” The proposal to develop a 65 bed care home on the Haxby Hall site is welcomed. The city has a shortage of care home accommodation and specifically for those living with dementia.
Based on national benchmarking York has a current shortage of almost 600 care bedrooms, this application will help to address this shortfall by not only providing an increased number of bedrooms but also by providing a modern, accessible facilities for residents.
I am particularly supportive of the fact that each bedroom in this proposal has an en-suite bathroom and corridors are wide enough to allow those with walking frames or wheelchair users to pass, which the existing care home does not provide.
The terraces on the upper floors will enable all residents to have access to outdoor space and nature. The way the building has been designed will allow natural light into bedrooms, corridors and communal spaces, which is a key feature in design for older person’s accommodation.
The specific provision for those living with dementia, with dementia friendly design elements and a focus on resident’s wellbeing is also strongly welcomed.
A report to a Council meeting next week offers a limited insight into the York Councils property dealings. It comes at an opportune time with various other Councils having been badly burnt recent by injudicious investments in land and property. Croydon and the Cambridgeshire County Council are both heading for the local government equivalent of bankruptcy.
Against that background taxpayers might would hope for York Councillors to now to adopt a more measured approach to investment. The commercial property market is likely – in the wake of the pandemic – to remain depressed for some time. It is not a good time to sell assets.
Instead we find a plan to borrow an additional £4 million on top of the £384 million already committed. That is a debt of nearly £2000 for every man, woman, and child in the City. 20% of tax payments will have to go towards paying interest charges.
This has remained empty since occupants were moved out – prematurely as it turned out – in 2016. The sale for a new care home to Ashley House fell through in early 2017. No attempt was made to find even a temporary use for the site which occupies a prime location near to local amenities and good transport links. Maintenance expenditure on the empty building continued to fall on taxpayers. Now the council is proposing an “off-market” sale to regional care home operator, Burlington Care Limited. The size of the offer has not been revealed. Ironically, the officer report admits “An open market exercise may be impacted by COVID 19 suppressing property values. The council budget has been significantly impacted by COVID and there is a need to realise value from vacant assets in the near future”
Another former care home, which has been empty for nearly 5 years, is Willow House. It is on a prime site located next to the city walls. The site was nearly sold for student housing in 2017 but ran into planning difficulties. Other offers were ignored by the Council and an offer from a company which utilises empty residential accommodation to accommodate the homeless in return for caretaking and security duties, was spurned. Now it seems that the Council intends to build 40 apartments on the site and will probably use its own “Shape” development company to manage the investment. The site is worth more than £2.3 million.
An elderly person’s home empty since early 2018. No use has been found for the site. It is to be considered for use by “self-builders” but if that is not successful it will be sold on the open market.
Moor Lane car park
This is the site currently in use as a flu vaccination centre. It has mostly been empty for the last 4 years. There has been a lot of developer interest in building on the site. The Council has decided not to include it in the Council house building programme and may therefore sell it on. On the open market – even in these depressed times – it is likely to be worth less per acre than the Willow House site.
The sale of this home to private care home operator “Yorkare” has stalled. COVID is blamed
& the strange ones
Generally, taxpayers have benefited in the long run when the Council has bought land and buildings in the City. There have been exceptions. For example, when the authority impulsively sold the site now occupied by the Hiscox insurance company on Peasholme Green. Had it included a betterment clause in the sale then taxpayers rather than shareholders would have benefited from the subsequent increase in land values.
It looks increasingly likely that the purchase of good quality agricultural land near Knapton, with the intention of planting trees on it, may go into the same ill-considered category. When wooded, the area will not have a resale option but will involve an ongoing maintenance liability. 180 acres will support 50,000 broadleaf trees making a, carbon sequestration, contribution to the £1.2 trillion additional trees which would be required on the planet to reverse climate change! The £1 million project is also hailed as a major new passive leisure option for residents although, in truth, it is poorly positioned to make up for the open space lost in recent years to building operations in the City’s poorer areas.
The major issue remains the lack of an environmental impact assessment. The land currently contributes to the local food supply chain. If the land is lost to food production, imports may increase resulting in longer transport chains and – critically – higher carbon emission levels. Storing carbon – like burying nuclear waste – simply pushes a problem onto the next generation.
The key to improving the environment is to reduce carbon emissions. Even the government seemed to recognise this, with its initiative yesterday aimed at replacing gas boilers with heat pumps and other benign energy sources.
The Eco centre is the small business facility at Clifton Moor which was promoted by the Council some 15 years ago. It was provided via a “design and build” contract on Council owned land.
Occupation levels have been encouraging although usually reflecting the general state of the economy. There are 63 individual units there. The Council currently leases back the centre and has managed the facility since 2015. The rent paid by tenant contributions is claimed to offset the current running costs.
Now officials are recommending that the Council spends £3.9 million buying out the interests of the owner of the building. The Council is not revealing how its business case figures stack up, but it claims that it may generate additional income by fitting PV (solar) panels on the roof.
Judged against the current economic volatility this looks like a high-risk strategy.
The plans for the non-listed section of the Guildhall have been an economic “basket case” for several years. The opportunity to sell part of the building for residential, retail or hotel use represented the least risk option and should have been pursued in 2012 when the building first became empty.
Instead, against a background of neglect and rapidly increasing repair costs, the Council opted for a risky plan to establish a hi tech small business start-up centre. The overall viability of the plan depended on letting part of the space as a high-end restaurant. The Council said it would run the unit itself.
£20 million of taxpayers money is at risk.
Now York University, via its Science City offshoot, has apparently offered to lease the business centre space at the Guildhall. Some civic and community use would continue. Science City has a generally good reputation and the offer to get the Council off its, self-inflicted, hook would seem to be an attractive one.
It is unclear how the success of the new enterprise would be judged. It is even less clear how the demand for City centre “incubator” space will mature in the wake of the pandemic.
The restaurant shell building will remain empty awaiting a resurgence of the local visitor economy.
The Council currently has a 9.2% minority stake in York Science Park Ltd. which it would sell.
The lease deal would be “off market” raising once again accusations of a “family and friends” approach to commercial dealings.
“Town and Gown” relations are already stressed in the wake of the pandemic and a perceived lack of accessibility for residents and visitors to the historic Kings Manor buildings in the City centre, which are currently occupied by the University.
The Council has pointedly not published updated business case figures which reflect the new offer being made as well as ongoing concerns about the cost of the renovation project..
On what must be one of the most risky approaches to the financial management of Council owned property, the Risk Management assessment included in the report amounts to only 7 lines of text and concentrates entirely on the planned bid for the Eco centre.
The Council will receive an update report next week on its Older Persons’ Accommodation Programme. It has confirmed its plans to privatise the running of Haxby Hall elderly persons home.
The councilis being asked to approve land transactions and lease agreements to enable Yorkare Homes Limited to redevelop and upgrade Haxby Hall. When complete, this will help meet the need for good quality care in high quality care homes across the city.
Yorkare’s plans to extend and improve the accommodation at Haxby Hall will ensure uninterrupted care for the residents. Under the plans, residents will be able to stay in the home whilst work progresses on the site. The plans will also ensure continued employment for the Hall’s staff by transferring their employment from the council to the operator.
Yorkare are an ‘outstanding’ CQC-rated operator and they aim to extend this popular care home and create over 60 new bedrooms, equipped with en-suite facilities for improved privacy.
To deliver this higher quality of care and ensure minimal disruption to residents, two neighbouring properties have been acquired to provide access to the rear of the site. The council’s Executive is being asked to agree to a long lease for the site, for which Yorkare will pay the council £450,000.
A period of consultation will take place with local residents, community groups and organisations before planning permission is sought.
Separately the Council has said that “The executive will be asked to agree to procure an extra care developer and operator to develop a mixed tenure extra care development on theLowfields site previously identified for a care home”. The meeting will take place on 19th March 2020.
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!
Councillors will consider the future of Haxby Hall older persons’ home when they meet on Thursday 25 January.
Following a consultation with residents, relatives and staff at Haxby Hall, the council’s Executive will be asked to note the feedback and make a decision on whether to transfer ownership and management of the care home to an independent sector provider, with the aim of securing its future and providing modern, improved facilities.
If the transfer of Haxby Hall is agreed councillors will also be asked to:
Agree to procure a developer to take over Haxby Hall as a going concern with a commitment to delivering improved care facilities on the site.
To dispose of the site of the care home in return for a capital receipt which will reinvested as part of the Older Persons’ Accommodation Programme.
To procure a contract that will allow the council to purchase a specified number of beds at an agreeable rate.
In December 2016, Executive agreed to consult with residents, relatives and families on the option to seek a partner to take over the 49 bed care home, with a commitment to delivering improved care facilities. (more…)
A new, dedicated facility for people living with Dementia has opened at one of City of York Council’s Older People’s Homes as part of the council’s plans to modernise accommodation for older people.
The new Poppyfields unit at Haxby Hall will provide care for eight older people living with Dementia. The specially designed facility provides a ‘household’ model of care for the residents, where they live together in a small group or ‘household’, and provides easy access to a large secure garden. The facility includes two ‘respite rooms’ to provide short term breaks for people living in their own homes, giving their regular carers the opportunity to have a holiday.
It’s hoped that the new unit will help meet the current need to provide additional specialist dementia support, helping people to maintain their living skills by keeping occupied with simple daily tasks, such as baking, arts and crafts, quizzes and games, as well as ‘meaningful occupations’ such as washing their dishes, all of which can reduce anxiety and agitation. (more…)
£2 million price tag put on Lowfields site – Future of playing fields unclear.
Labours plans to abandon the super care home project mean that 7 existing elderly persons homes will close:
Willow House and
All will close by March 2019. The first will close its doors next year.
The Council expects many of the occupants to move into homes provided by the “independent sector”
Houses will be built on most of the vacated sites.
It is proposed that the Lowfields site be used for the provision of “over 100 new homes” including “downsizing” homes to rent and buy for older people as well as “starter homes to rent and buy so that younger families can get on to the housing ladder”.
The Council says that a capital receipt of “at least £2m” for the land will also be realised, confirming that any redevelopment will be by the private sector.
Whether the playing fields are included in this purchase price is unclear
It is proposed that the “facilities for older people originally envisaged as part of the Community Village on the Lowfields site be, instead, provided at a newly built Extra Care and Health Hub which is expected to replace the Oakhaven OPH on “Front Street” (sic)”.
The Council says it
“will be on making best use of the existing stock of Extra Care Housing in the city. There are five dedicated sheltered housing with ‘extra care’ services in York containing 205 units of accommodation.
Four of these are Council managed schemes – Marjorie Waite Court, Gale Farm Court, Barstow House and Glen Lodge, whilst the fifth (Auden House) is managed by York Housing Association. All homes in these schemes are to rent”.
The Council claims that many of those occupying places in these homes don’t need “extra care” facilities and hints that they may be moved out to make way for those judged to have higher needs!
They say, “We will work with exiting residents to keep disruption to a minimum”
The report concludes,
“York is also under-supplied with Extra Care Housing given the city’s demographics and the anticipated growth in the numbers of over 75s expected over the next decade.
Analysis suggests that there will be need for 490 units of Extra Care accommodation by 2020, rising to 645 in 2030, based upon nation benchmarks. There is a need for both Extra Care to rent and Extra Care to buy; currently just one third of the provision in York is to buy despite 81% of York’s older residents owning their own home.
The independent sector is beginning to address this need. For example, McCarthy & Stone are currently building 28 new sheltered homes to buy at Smithson Court on Top Lane in Copmanthorpe. Elsewhere in Yorkshire they are beginning to build and provide their Extra Care offer – called Assisted Living – and we would expect that they will continue to provide new accommodation as the market demands”.
With the overcrowding in York NHS hospitals reaching crisis point over the last few months, partly as a result of a lack of availability of the right kind of care places for the elderly in the City, the prospect of another 4 years elapsing before the issues are resolved is deeply worrying.
Residents and staff at Haxby Hall – one of City of York Council’s Older People’s Homes – will be celebrating ‘Yorkshire day’ on Friday 1 August in style with a BBQ, entertainment and a staff team rounders contest: ‘Yorkshire versus the rest of the world’.