More trees and wild flowers

How not to do it

The new York Council has rightly decided to plant more trees and expand the areas devoted to wildflowers with good propagation features.

More trees will help , in a modest way, to offset the losses both locally and internationally which have occurred over recent years.

The plight of bees robbed of propagating flowers in urban environments, because of increased hard surfacing and use of herbicides, is well documented.

The Council does however need to understand that such a policy is not a cheap alternative . The authority will need to plant the right species of trees to match the needs of specific locations. Too many well intended “plant a tree in 83” type schemes resulted in the wrong type of tree being planted in the wrong location.

This is particularly true in the case of highway trees (those in verges) where lack of regular maintenance has meant that many have grown the point that they interfere with passing vehicles, overhead plant or neighbouring properties. The only pruning that they get is from high sided vehicles which sooner or later impact on branches often sending them crashing down onto the highway.

High winds can have a similar effect.

The problem can be traced to an inadequate maintenance budget. This was given a modest boost in the Council most recent review.

Before planting more trees – there are plenty of spaces where new mini forests could be created in and around the City – the Council should first sort out its existing stock

On Balfour Street a (self seeded?) tree has been allowed to spread to the point where it is absorbing the adjacent railings and destroying the public footpath. It has been reported on several occasions with out a response from the Council. An obvious case for the local ward committee to use its delegated budget to tidy up the area.

For some people wildflowers are synonymous with pervasive weed growth. We have seen the neglect of highways over the summer although some lobbyists have argued that the weed growth will at least be “good for nature”.

We doubt that, with damage to paths and drains likely to pose an expensive hazard.

But there are locations where the Council could proactively plant low maintenance flowers which would greatly increase propagation opportunities.

The authority will need a proactive programme which will need to include a commitment to the long term maintenance of any planted areas.

This area next to the Leeman Road cycle track is actually paved. Neglect means that is has gradually become overgrown. If it serves no landscaping purpose, then the paving could be removed and a good propagating, low maintenance, plant such as lavender, could be substituted.

York annual weed growing contest off to a good start

We’ve asked residents to nominate the highest growing weeds on public highways in the City.

These are roads, footpaths , bridges etc which should by now have been treated for weed growth by the York Council.

If left untreated the weeds will gradually break up the surface of the highway causing additional expense when remedial work is undertaken.

The weed control programme is normally sub contracted by the Council. Residents may have seen (or not this year) quad bikers in some streets spraying weed killer

Weeds in the Leeman Road area. Currently about 1 metre high but growing strongly

Weeds higher than 1 metre at the A59 junction near Poppleton. Gives a poor first impression of the City for visitors accessing the nearby Park and Ride site.
A long time problem location with weeds now nearly 2 metres high on the parapets of the Ouse Bridge. Happens every year but no weed killer is applied by the Council.
This year the weeds have been supplemented by a strong growth in tin cans (licet stagni)
In the right place, wild flowers can make a positive contribution to the local environment. These are outside the Foxwood Community Centre. They help to sustain bee populations as well as supporting bio diversity more generally..

York central planners head for dead end on Leeman Road

The Marble Arch pedestrian tunnel does not meet modern standards.

Today’s announcement, that the Marble Arch tunnel will become singe file traffic when the York central  development proceeds, will come as major surprise to many.

The limitations of the route were recognised in the last decade when initial designs, for the regeneration of the York Central site, incorporated a new pedestrian/cycle path which crossed over the east coast main line.

It was recognised then that major work was needed if the route was to become attractive to visitors and residents alike. The new bridge would have crossed the railway line and the river Ouse.

Since then, the Council have opted to spend £5 million on a cycle facility next to the Scarborough railway bridge. This offers little to those coming from Leeman Road although some leaving the station may benefit.

The main problem with the Marble Arch tunnel is the lack of a waterproof membrane. This means that “gunge” seeps down the walls of both the traffic tunnel and the pedestrian route.

It can only be cleaned up for a limited period.

The installation of a waterproof membrane would be very costly and could seriously affect rail services while the work was done.

Single file traffic would have knock on effects across the whole network. Changes to the area in front of the station (and now at Micklegate Bar) would put further pressures on road space.

The Council must release the traffic modelling figures indicating how each option would cumulatively impact on movement.

Under current plans even public transport reliability could suffer.

The proposal needs a rethink.

£33+ million estimate for new York central access route

Compromise access route

The preferred option for an access bridge into the York Central site will cost between £33 & £43 million. The route will pass next the Millennium Green, but efforts are being made to minimise its impact.

The new route will effectively provide a by-pass for the Salisbury Terrace/Leeman Road housing area.

The compromise is described in a Council report published today following a period of consultation.

The report is good news for campaigners in the Holgate Road/ Wilton Rise community. They were set to be hit hardest by an access route using Chancery Rise. The Labour council bought the land that this route would have used in 2013 but offered little consultation with nearby residents. Quite how much this blunder has cost taxpayers is unclear at this stage.

So, fare around £3.7 million has been spent on planning work for York central plus site purchase of this £2.3 has come from York taxpayers. Now taxpayers are to be asked for a further £1.9 million to take the project forward.

In addition, the Council is being asked to find 3200,000 towards the costs of an expansion of the Railway Museum. The Museum hopes to invest around £50 million in their project

Following a “Master Planning” exercise for the site, a planning application is expected to be determined in Oct 2018

Consultation on access routes for York Central started in the last decade (see below)

Residents preferred access option location (Water End) remains the same!

Public consultation –
York central access options 2007



York Council to ramp up buying and selling plans




It looks like the Council will be selling its premises at 29 Castlegate later in the year. The building has been in use as a youth drop in centre for several years and before that housed a photographic gallery.

Closure of the youth centre provoked a strong reaction and the Council abandoned its plans to sell the building in 2015. However, a new home for youth activities has now been found at Sycamore House and it seems that the Council will resurrect is plan to sell the building to the York Civic Trust (who run the adjacent Fairfax House and which needs the space to expand).

A meeting on 24th November will discuss how to ensure that taxpayers get the best possible deal out of the change.

Leeman Road

Elsewhere the Council is expected to discuss in October whether it can buy the Unipart Rail site on Leeman Road. The site is one that will eventually be redeveloped as part of the York Central project.

The Council has so far failed to identify an investment model to drive forward land acquisition in the area. It has allocated £10 million in its capital programme to fund an access route into the site but many taxpayers are unhappy that this risk is not being born by commercial partners – or government agencies – who stand to profit from the development.


Castle Mills car park

Castle Mills car park

It seems likely that the Council will fund the demolition of its Castle Mills car park on Piccadilly which is described as being in “poor condition”. It is likely to be replaced by a surface level car park until such time as the regeneration of the area actually moves forward.

Regeneration of the Coppergate/Piccadilly area has been stalled for over 15 years.

Leeman Road closure – bus service diversions

Services 2, 5 and 5A affected

bus stop

Monday 16 June 2014 – Friday 20 June 2014

Road Works

  • Area: Leeman Road
  • Cause: Roadworks
  • Duration: 5 days

Leeman Road will be closed from Monday 16th June at 0900 to Friday 20th June until 1800

Buses will divert as follows –

Service 2 Rawcliffe Bar Park & Ride Green Line
From Water End bus stop continues along Water End non stop along Poppleton Road, Holgate Road, Blossom Street, Queen Street, Station Road to Station Avenue, then on normal route to Rawcliffe Bar.

Service 5/5A
To Strensall: After Boroughbridge (Malvern Avenue stop), buses will continue non stop along Poppleton Road, Holgate Road, Blossom
Street, Queen Street, Station Road to Station Avenue, then normal route to Strensall.

From Strensall: After Station Road, buses will continue non stop along Station Road, Queen Street, Blossom Street, Holgate Road,
Poppleton Road to Boroughbridge Road (Malvern Avenue stop), then normal route to Acomb.