Does high density development have a post pandemic future?

Hungate development plans

Developers have submitted their final proposals for building on the remaining plot on Hungate.

 The latest planning application would see an increase in the number of flats proposed from 169 to 226. No on-site parking will be provided. There will be some ground floor retail units.

The announcement comes hard on the heels of a planning application which would see 211 apartments constructed on Rougier Street.

While a lot of people will be pleased to see the Hungate  development – which started over  10 years ago – completed, there will be some scepticism about the number of apartments being provided on a relatively small site.

 The lockdown restrictions have highlighted the need for access to safe open space. Unfortunately land values – established during a very different economic climate – make the provision of the alternative to flats –  terraced homes with private gardens – financially challenging.

Barbican Road development site

This may be why the City center’s worst eyesore continues to lie empty and abused.

The site at the junction of Barbican Road and Paragon Street has been derelict for more than a decade. Originally intended for use as a student block, it has failed to attract serious developer interest.

Now it provides an embarrassing backdrop to the historic City Walls.

Perimeter hoardings now covered in graffiti.

Directly opposite – on the other side of the Walls – is the Willow House  former elderly persons home which has been unused for over 4 years. The Council has still not responded to calls for the building to be used as temporary accommodation for the homeless.

The York Council itself is planning to build hundreds of apartments on the York Central site as well as at Castle Mills.

The next year will tell us how many people want to occupy small flats in high density city centre developments.

Post pandemic, we suspect that the option might be losing some of its appeal.  

What’s on in York: “Hungate – The First 2000 Years” Peter Connelly Lecture

16th October

6:15 pm – 7:45 pm

Venue: Friargate Meeting House, Castlegate, York YO1 9RN


The archaeology of Hungate, York has provided evidence for at least 2000 years of continuous human connection to this low lying parcel of land nestled in the Foss valley.

During his talk Peter will trace these connections from the use of the area as a Roman cemetery on the edge of Eboracum, through the organised development on the fringes of Viking Age Jorvik and onwards across time to the start of the 20th century when Hungate was called home by a large working class community.

By illustrating the perspective of the last 2000 years, Peter will reveal how certain choices in the past have influenced the development of the Hungate, we see today. He will finish his talk with a personal view of how contemporary decisions, may influence the development of Hungate in the future.


Drunken sailors return to York?

The York council will soon have spent its £28 million “Economic Investment Fund”.

In a final spending spree, before electors have a chance to give a verdict on the “spend, spend, spend” approach of the Labour Council, over £250,000 is to be spent this year on new projects.

One involves the investment of £175,000 in paving the entrance to Hungate/Peasholme Green.

Peasholme Green

Peasholme Green

The justification for the investment is that it will encourage more “return visitors to the area”.

While the Quilt Museum and Black Swan pub (both of which could suffer because of the Councils decision to close the Haymarket car park) may read this with interest, most commentators will think that the private sector should pay for any improvements to Hungate.

This is, after all, adjacent to the site which the Council sold off for a little over £2 million in the depth of the recession.

The prime City centre site – on which Hiscox hope to build offices – has now more than doubled in value.

The project will, however, have little impact on Hungate even after adding in Section S106 contributions which could increase the budget to circa £250,000.

Nearby £300,000 is being spent on paving a very small section of Fossgate, while the controversial resurfacing of Kings Square is costing taxpayers £500,000.

Most of the Council’s EIF budget comes from borrowing. It will add around £1.6 million a year to the debt charges that taxpayers will have to find.

Meanwhile sub-urban shopping and residential eras continue to suffer a decline in public service standards.

Perhaps the most telling comment on the Hungate scheme comes in the Council report itself.

It virtually admits that they have no idea whether the investment will bring any kind of return for the City.

“With respect to the Hungate public realm project, estimating the exact impact of investment in public realm can be difficult, but estimates provided in this report from respected authorities suggest that the impact provides value for money”.

Quite so!

Hob Moor development gets go ahead

Hungate, Askham Bryan, Terry’s, Lawrence Street also approved

Approved plan for Hob Moor site click to enlarge

Approved plan for Hob Moor site click to enlarge

The controversial house building plans for the former Our Lady’s school site on Windsor Garth were approved by the Planning Committee last night. It appears though that the scheme may now be referred to the Secretary of State for his views.

Although the revised plans were an improvement on those originally submitted, it remains a very dense development which will add further pressures to public services in the area.

No provision has been made to provide additional parking spaces for those vehicles which will be displaced from the access road.

Astonishingly no restrictions were imposed by the committee on the use of tracked plant outside the line of the existing railings, opening up the possibility that – in wet conditions – parts of the Moor adjacent to the site might be subject to severe damage.

Although most of the existing metal railings area now being retained – allowing the existing trees and bushes to remain in place as a visual screen – on the north side of the site a new wooden fence will be installed.

No reason has been given for replacing the railings with this inferior fence, which is likely to provide less security for both residents and the Moor.


The committee also approved development plans for offices in Hungate (Haymarket car park), an extension to Askham Bryan College, detailed design features on the Terry’s site as well as the provision of new student accommodation on Lawrence Street.

Major planning applications to be considered on Thursday – Hungate, Askham Bryan, Windsor Garth, Terry’s, Lawrence Street.

As well as the controversial Our Lady’s housing development on Windsor Garth, several other major planning applications will be decided at a meeting taking place on Thursday.


First up are the Hiscox insurance company plans for Hungate.

click for larger plan

click for larger plan

The Haymarket car park and adjacent site – which was to have been the site of the new Council HQ – are set to become office blocks.

The Council was heavily criticised 18 months ago for selling off the sites for approximately half of their current value. In total taxpayers lost out on about £2.5 million as the Labour Council Leadership desperately tried to attract the Hiscox company to the City.

Now two sets of plans have been published.

The first concerns Haymarket Car Park, the Ambulance Station and the Peasholme Green Hostel site.

It is for the erection of part-three and part-four storey office building (Use Class B1a) of 6,545 square metres (GEA), new energy centre (49 square metres), landscaping proposals, improvements to public realm and highways.

English Heritage, who sabotaged the Council’s plans 6 years ago, have said they now support the development proposals.

The second application is for the site to the rear of the plot. It could be an office (Use Class B1a) with flexible ground floor uses (A1 Shops, D1 institutions or D2 Leisure), or hotel building (Use Class C1) with access.

The offices would be 4 storeys high and the hotel 5 storeys.

Both applications re recommended for approval.
Askham Bryan College

click for larger plan

click for larger plan

The college has applied to provide:

  •  • Two Animal Management Centres
  • • Animal shelters, aviary and enclosures to the south of the animal management centre and within the arboretum (between the main campus building and the A64), perimeter fence to the wildlife and conservation area
  • • Birds of prey centre
  • • Following the demolition of the existing animal management buildings extension of existing parking facilities. The parking would become more formalised and would provide bus turning and waiting facilities
  • • Conversion of the existing equestrian building to provide storage and winter housing for animals in relation to the animal management centre
  • • The quadrangle of the main teaching block would be covered by a glazed roof
  • • An entrance lobby to the main teaching block
  • • Two rows of single storey portacabin student accommodation set between the existing student accommodation and the teaching blocks (retrospective) a 3 year temporary planning permission is sought for this development
  • • A farm reception building
  • • Extensions of an existing agricultural building
  • • A general purpose/livestock building on the site of the existing silage clamp
  • • A silage clamp
  • • Conversion of existing cattle shed to equine loose boxes
  • • An equestrian centre, with entrance from York Road and 2 no. two bed dwellings
  • • Re-profiling of fields/hill to the west of the campus to create a polo field with associated landscaping

Student numbers are projected to nearly double over the next 5 years from 1200 to 2300. The level of car parking on site will increase from approximately 390 spaces to 530 spaces.

A second application involves an outline application for the erection of new building and conversion of existing building to provide student accommodation; the erection of teaching block following the demolition of a workshop; and the erection of an engineering building

The applications are for developments in the Green Belt. They are recommended for approval but will have to be referred to the Secretary of State for approval.
A “reserved matters” application for Phase 1 of the development of the former Terry’s factory site. It comprises 57 houses, one 18 unit apartment building and one. 11 unit apartment building with ground floor retail unit. Details can be found by clicking here.

The plans are recommended for approval
Lawrence Street

Site is the former Reg Vardy car showroom

The proposals involve the demolition of existing car showroom and the erection of 3 student accommodation buildings comprising of 220 studios with associated external works including a freestanding energy building.
Click here for details

195 new apartments for Hungate

A planning application for the next phase of the Hungate development has been submitted to the Council.

Click here for details

Hungate phase 2

The Foss side application – a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedroomed flats – is unexceptional save in one respect.

No offer is made of affordable units either on site or off site.

Instead a viability study is being prepared which will indicate “at a later date” what – if any – “affordable units” can be provided.

A precedent for a zero affordable contribution was established by a planning inspector who determined a York planning appeal recently.

The design of the flats proposed suggests that they would not address social housing needs anyway (although most of the waiting list is now made up of residents seeking 1 bedroomed accommodation).

If this means that payment to the Council, in lieu of homes, is planned then that could be a step forward.

As we have pointed out previously, there are many properties for sale in the City for around £100,000.

If the Council was a “cash in hand” purchaser they could buy up some of these and make an immediate impact on the housing waiting list.

The last batch of Hungate properties were relatively expensive (starting at over £200,000 for a small flat).

So the willingness of the developer to proceed with the next stage does provide further evidence that the country’s economic recovery is gaining momentum in York.