Multi User Games Area – late development

Sport England have sent a late representation to the Councils’ planning committee reaffirming their views on the future of the MUGA on Kingsway West.

They say that they HAVE NOT agreed to it being demolished.

Council officials, in a report to the committee,  had given the impression that a holding objection had been withdrawn.


Now Sport England have unequivocally said that, if the existing MUGA is demolished, then a replacement facility must be provided nearby.

Such a facility must be available before the existing MUGA is demolished  and must be available for public use.

The planning committee is meeting tomorrow (Thursday) at 4:30pm


Residents sceptical about Council planning applications.

Concerns ignored in committee report as play, congestion and parking fears rise

Kingsway area residents have expressed concerns that their views have been ignored in reports being presented to a planning committee meeting on Thursday. The reports consider plans for new developments in the area on Council owned land.

Newbury Avenue

The lack of alternative car parking provision was a major issue in the Newbury Avenue area when planning permission to demolish 28 garages was granted last May. The planning committee specifically required that 4 alternative spaces be constructed before demolition works started. This would have involved moving a telecoms cabinet which would have taken about 8 weeks to complete. 24 weeks later it turns out that the Council have only just asked the telecoms companies to act. Rather disingenuously the Council states that, as the garages are now all empty, demolishing them will not add to the parking problems in the area. They don’t admit that, despite a long waiting list of people wanting to rent them,  the Council stopped new lettings in 2012. It was this action that has contributed to the parking problems which are already apparent in the area.

Hob Moor School playing field

It has been known for some time that the Council intended to expand by building on the school playing field which lies to the rear of Windsor House and Lincoln Court. It came as something of surprise to many residents that this included the demolition of the Multi User Games Area (MUGA) Early in the consultation process the Council said that any sports or play facilities that were affected would be provided elsewhere on the site.

This is now under question.

Children’s ball games facility threatened

The proposal at Hob Moor school is for  “a playing pitch on presently unused land to the east of the school together with an area of informal “Forest School” activities including a wetland, timber walkway and a fabric covered outdoor teaching space”.

The new location, “ comprises an area of unimproved grassland which partially includes an area of derelict ridge and furrow of good quality which represents a survivor of a once more elaborate area surrounding the outskirts of the City and dating back to the Medieval period”.

There is no mention of either an all-weather kick about area or any other play facility being re-provided.

Windsor House

The redevelopment of this site mentions the need for” a Community Use Agreement” for the new school playing field.

It is unclear with whom the agreement would be, for what hours and via with what access route?

The report on the Windsor House site dismiss the concerns raised in a petition collected by local residents. Officials accept that the local highway network is sub-standard (too narrow to meet modern standards). They claim only about 18 car trips a day would be generated by the 42 members of staff who will work at the new Children’s Centre. They claim 13 parking spaces will be adequate.

The officials conveniently forget that parking problems in the area have already been exacerbated by other building works including the 66 additional homes at Hob Stones.

Changing lifestyles mean that many more delivery vans also now visit the area.

At the very least the Council should ensure that there is a service road provided, from the parking area at the Hob Moor school, to the rear access to the centre. This might reduce the traffic impact on Kingsway West while providing an access for mini buses carrying disabled children and for deliveries.

Lincoln Court

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

The proposal would see an additional 10 “extra care” bedrooms provided on the site. There are currently 22 apartments located on there. These are

being modernised with work having started recently on providing new double glazing. These will generate additional traffic and parking demands.

The report makes the outrageous claim that the MUGA is “disused”; something that officials apparently told the Sports Council in a bid to get them to withdraw their objection to the closure plan.

In fact, the Council suspended routine maintenance on the facility while discussions took place and later secured the entrance to prevent use. Funding had been made to provide “off the streets” activities there last summer but this was never implemented.

The MUGA has now been renovated and is once again usable with surrounding vegetation cleared back

It seems that west York faces a further loss of green fields and play facilities.

Inadequate parking provision will blight the area while congestion levels will increase

The neighbourhood deserves better.

Disabled children’s centre site plan 1

Lincoln Court expansion plans 2018


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

Plans for Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children revealed.

Ascot Way proposals generally welcomed

The plans to establish a new centre for disabled children on the former Windsor House site on Ascot Way were generally welcomed at a public meeting held on Monday. The plans will now be discussed at a Council Executive meeting next week

The Council says that the new building will be the setting for a range of support services which will enable disabled children to remain in their families and in their community, delivered from a safe, accessible space

  • Flexible short break provision to meet the needs of children and young people with Autism, Learning Disabilities and/or additional health needs.
  • Family Intervention Rapid Support Team (FIRST) and Therapeutic Short Breaks a specialist Clinical Psychology led intensive assessment and intervention service for families with children and young people who have Autism and Learning Disability and challenging behaviour which affects their ability to live in the local community

The facility will be linked to Hob Moor Oaks special school. Disabled children will be able to walk to the new provision after school, instead of being transported across the city on minibuses. Part of the playing field of the school will be used for the project.

The buildig will replace the facilities currently provided at The Glen.

The scheme is imaginative and worthy of support. However, the proposal to retain the front entrance (and therefore vehicular access) via Ascot Way is controversial. There are already congestion and parking problems in the area. An access, with car parking,  via Hob Moor school would address this issue, while offering the opportunity to provide better accessibility for Lincoln Court.

The detailed plans also suggest that an outdoor play area be provided adjacent to Lincoln Court. While many older people like to feel involved in the local community, inevitably playgrounds can be noisy places. We think that the location of this part of the facility should be reconsidered.

Residents will hope that any building work on the project will not take place at the same time as the threatened development of the Newbury Avenue garage site.

Illustrations of what is proposed are reproduced below

£1.5 million cut from York children’s centres as eleven set to close

Westfield axed, Hob Moor retained

The Childrens Centre at Hob Moor school is being retained

The Childrens Centre at Hob Moor school is being retained

The Council is planning to replace most of its children’s centres with mobile support staff following a survey of residents views. The results of the survey – which attracted 981 responses, can be viewed here

A report to a Council committee meeting next week gives more details of the plans

The report says, “These new Local Area Teams would bring together a range of existing services to form a new set of preventative arrangements for families from pregnancy through to adult hood. By working in a more coordinated way with partners and communities, the new arrangements will deliver more effective and efficient ways of whole family and community based working”.

The teams will be based at the three retained children’s centres which will be located at:

  • Hob Moor
  • Clifton &
  • Tang Hall

However, the report does not detail what will happen to the space freed up by the closure of the other centres

The Council faces a dilemma as the government may choose to “claw back” £4.4 million of the grant which was used to establish the centres in the first place.

The Council has also announced that it will close the Castlegate young people’s drop in centre and move it to  Sycamore House on Clarence Street

York Lib Dems oppose academy school plans

York Liberal Democrats have written to the Government opposing plans to force all schools to become academies.

In Westfield, the Hob Moor school recently announced plans to become an Academy amidst  confusion about how its PFI debts would be paid.

Hob Moor School

Hob Moor School

Residents also questioned how parents and the local community would be able to influence the polices of what is a major neighbourhood asset sited in a relatively poor area.

Specialist services for those with Special Educational Needs are provided on the campus which is also a base for Surestart services.

 The Conservative Government has said that all schools will be expected to become, or be in the process of becoming, academies by 2020, with all converted by 2022.

In a letter to the Education Secretary, local Lib Dems say they are opposed to “forced academisation” and raise concerns about the ending of the current accountability of schools to elected local councils.

The letter raises concerns about whether councils such as York will be able to fulfil their remaining education duties under the new system, such as school place planning and protecting vulnerable pupils including those with Special Education Needs. It also criticises the proposal to end the role of parent governors and says the Government has revealed no plans to help councils with the costs that they will face in the conversion of schools.

Hob Moor schools may become an “Academy”


The media are reporting that the Hob Moor and Hob Moor Oaks schools may be amalgamated with the controversial Ebor Academy Trust. The Trust recently announced plans for a 410 pupil “creative arts” school on the former Park and Ride site on Moor Lane. Opponent’s feared that a new school would siphon off pupils from other local schools including Woodthorpe, Dringhouses and Hob Moor.

An academy is an independent school funded by the state. An independent appraisal of the trend towards schools becoming academies can be found on the BBC web site

The Hob Moor schools are located in relatively new buildings which were built by the York Council in 2005. They continue to be maintained using private finance Initiative (PFI) funding.

New Hob Moor school been built in 2005

New Hob Moor school been built in 2005

The school has had mixed academic results over the years. The most recent OFSTED report in 2013 rated both schools as “good”.

 Becoming an academy would remove the provision of support from the local authority, such as their advisory services, special educational needs (SEN) and disability support services. If a school does not purchase services like these from the local authority, these may well become more expensive for schools to procure since individual academies would not benefit from the same economies of scale as the local authority.

 Academies are their own admissions authority and, therefore, set their own admission policies. They are at present required to abide by the admissions code. Whilst academies cannot choose their intake, there is some evidence that academies intakes are not representative of their local community. Academies also have a higher exclusion rate than other types of schools.

Parents can complain to the school. However, academies are not part of the local authority family of schools and, therefore, if parents or neighbours are not satisfied or are unhappy with the outcome, they cannot complain, as they can now, to the local authority or their local Councillor to ask them to intervene.

Academies are not required to have community representatives on their governing bodies (but could choose to do so). The Hob Moor school is an important part of the local community. It includes a “children’s centre”.

Like most school sites there are sometimes complaints from neighbours about activities on the site or related to it..

The absence of a broadly based school governing body would represent a risk for relations with future parents, neighbours and other users of the site.

The school has promised to consult widely on their proposals.

Those consultations should include public meetings, open to the whole community, together with an advisory ballot aimed at giving (at least) every parent a vote.
Cllr Andrew Waller

Cllr Andrew Waller

Local Councillor Andrew Waller (who wasn’t consulted before the school issued their statement of intent) comments, 

“we believe that the community is best served by schools which remain in the family of local authority schools with local accountability.

At this stage we know no more about the process of consultation with parents than what was in the newspaper but there is the issue of the need to consult with the wider community who have a stake in the future operation of the school. I believe that the whole community should have a say in the matter (accepting that legally it is simply a vote of the governing body which decides the outcome of this matter)”.

Hob Moor and Westfield Primary schools create banners for Tour de France

To help celebrate the Tour de France Grand Départ, over 100 banners are being designed and produced by primary schools in York in time to display at York Racecourse on Sunday 6 July.

Tour de France banner

The school project, organised by the council’s sport and active leisure team, has a theme of ‘Tour de France: What path will you take?’ and will see 110 white canvas banners decorated by school children.

The banners will be returned to the school that made them after the event as a memento of the day. The schools taking part are Badger Hill Primary School, Carr Infant School, Dringhouses Primary School, Elvington CE Primary School, Fishergate Primary School, Headlands Primary School, Heworth Primary School, Hob Moor Community Primary School, Huntington Primary School, Knavesmire Primary School, New Earswick Primary School, Osbaldwick Primary School, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Roman Catholic Primary, Ralph Butterfield Primary School, Robert Wilkinson Primary School, Rufforth Primary School, St Aelred’s Roman Catholic Primary School, St Lawrence’s Church of England Primary School, Tang Hall Primary School, Westfield Primary Community School, Wigginton Primary School and Woodthorpe Primary School.

The Sport Activation Zone at York Racecourse Spectator Hub is open to everyone who has a ticket. They will be able to find out more about cycling, sport and health opportunities in the city. Visitors will be able to try different sports, pick up healthy living information and enter free, fun activity challenges.