Lowfields misery continues

The Lowfield Action Group Facebook page makes it clear that residents have major concerns about the current development works in the area.

There are continuing complaints about noise, dust and working hours extending beyond those approved in the planning permission.

Communications from the Council have been minimal although another exhibition is promised prior to the main contractor starting on site. The current contractor is only undertaking clearance and layout works.

One piece of good news is that work on providing an additional 3 parking spaces on Tudor Road is due to start next week.

The Council latest planning application, which should have been determined by the end of April, it is still outstanding.

There is still no sign of a planning application for the Care Home much less the health centre and “police station”, not that they were ever likely to materialise anyway.

“Yorspace” are apparently still trying to raise funds for their “communal living” scheme while the Councils decision to sell them land at a discounted rate may yet prove to have been illegal.

Hopefully the new Council will be able to find someone competent and sensitive to local residents views when they decide who will lead on housing and planning matters for the next 4 years.

Certainly communication and supervisory systems need major improvements.

Latest planning applications for the Westfield Ward

 Below are the latest planning applications received by the York Council for the Westfield ward. 

Full details can be found by clicking the application reference 

The applications include changes to the layout and mix of properties at the major development site at Lowfields school. It includes details of the “village green” layout and the features to be incorporated there. It also raises the height of the houses at ground to “avoid flooding”. Most of the buildings now incorporate Photovoltaic Cells on their roofs.

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Former Lowfield School Dijon Avenue York

Non-material amendment to planning permission Ref: 17/02428/FULM – Changes to bedrooms, house types, elevations, PV, masterplan, FFL’s, Village Green and boundary treatments. 

Ref. No: 19/00685/NONMAT 

“Village Green layout

Overall layout

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63 Green Lane Acomb York YO24 3DJ

Conditions 3,4 and 7 of 17/00884/FUL 

Ref. No: AOD/19/00108 

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36 The Green Acomb York YO26 5LR

Fell 2 no. Conifer trees in a Conservation Area 

Ref. No: 19/00670/TCA

——-

78 Bramham Avenue York YO26 5DE

Single storey rear extension 

Ref. No: 19/00525/FUL 

——

Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning on line web site.  http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

NB. The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received

York Council sold land to “Yorspace” without affordable homes conditions

A response to a Freedom of Information request has revealed that the Council DID NOT require, that the land it sold at Lowfields to the “Yorspace” commune, must be used to provide affordable housing.

The land was sold for £300,000 – approximately 50% below its open market value.

A smaller plot of land at the other end of the Lowfields school site is currently being marketed for offers over £400,000.

The discounted sale  decision was taken in private by a Council official.

The Council claims that they had an independent valuation made on the site. They don’t say on what basis they discounted the value.

They did, however, depend on  Section 123 of the Local Government Act 1972 to dispose of the land at below market value. It was assumed – but not transparently recorded in the decision notice – that this was to facilitate the provision of more affordable housing.

This assumption was brought into question when a Council Housing Officer said, in response to Yorspace’s planning application to build 19 units on the 0.785 acre site, that the new homes could not be counted as “affordable”

The FOI response goes on to say, “This valuation was for a plot of land for community build housing with utility connections and a road to the edge of the site. Therefore, the price to be paid by Yorspace includes an allowance for infrastructure works. Yorspace will be paying for the construction of the car parking bays which are within their proposed red line ownership boundary”.

 “Any areas of road and parking will belong to Yorspace and it will be   their responsibility to maintain this. However, the public footpath in this area is likely to become adopted highway and therefore maintained by the council”.

Clearly there are “smoke and mirrors”  aspects to this transaction which will require the attention of the Auditors.

Another option for the Council would have been to develop the site itself to provide 19 more Council homes. The homes could then have been let direct to those on the housing waiting list. The Council has more freedom now to borrow to fund new Council homes.

NB. Despite some new builds, “Right to Buy” applications have seen the Council housing stock in York reduce from 7728 in 2016 to 7617 two years later.

Busy week for the York planning committee

Big planning decisions in York

York Central

York Central

The largest proposal concerns the land to the rear of the railway station. Known as “York Central” redevelopment of the area has been on the cards for nearly two decades. It has finally reached the planning application stage. The report recommends that the plans be forwarded to the Secretary of State for endorsement. The plans have attracted some opposition, but the economic and social welfare of the City depends on making some progress on the site now. Hopefully some of the ill judged ideas such as having only one-way traffic through the Marble Arch tunnel can be changed at a later stage.

Lowfields

‘dozer wrecks playing field

There is already a lot of local disquiet about the way that the Council are implementing their plans for this area. Many of the comments on the “Save Lowfields Playing Field” Facebook page are from disgruntled local residents who, even at this early stage, point to conflicts between lorries and parked cars, muddy roads and the ripping out of trees and hedges.

They are asking that the new parking spaces promised for Tudor Road be constructed before the existing parking lay-by is lost as an access road is constructed.

Yorspace proposed development plan, Lowfields

Further along the road, the Yorspace” application has been heavily criticised by local residents. The main concerns related to the lack of affordable units proposed on the site, the impact on the natural environment including inappropriate boundary treatments, security concerns relating to the adjacent public snicket access to little Tudor Road, the proposal to remove the railings which protect adjacent properties,  inadequate car parking provision  and the impact that overspill parking by residents, families and visitors could have on neighbouring streets and the height of the buildings.

Council officials have revealed that they have approved 5 outstanding conditions, for activities on the building site, despite several objections.

Lincoln Court

Lincoln Court.

The Council has made an embarrassing series of mistakes on the proposal to extend this independent living building. Even now they have published papers which imply (wrongly) that the new apartments  will be classified as “Extra Care” units. It has had plenty of time to clarify that issue.

There is some hope now that the future of the adjacent games area will be secured. Local Councillors are understood to have taken the initiative to discuss moving the facility to the local rugby club ground. If so, that would be a good solution to a problem which has also raised concerns from Sport England, and the resident’s association.

Other applications

All applications are recommended for approval

New chance to learn more about Council plans for Lowfields as meeting date announced

Following a false star last week, when an information drop in session was poorly attended because of inadequate publicity, a new date has been set.

A drop in will take place on Tuesday 5 March between 4:00pm and 7:00pm at the Gateway Centre on Front Street. Local residents are invited to attend.

The Lowfields Residents Action Group have also published the Councils responses to a series of questions that they posed about construction plans.

The response reveals that initially all construction traffic will enter via Dijon Avenue. This may also have implications for those residents living in Lowfields Drive and Gale Lane who may live on the access route.

The Action Group are appealing for help in distributing leaflets in the area warning residents about the impending building work.

York Council reply to residents concerns 15th February 2019

 

Lowfields – Residents produce newsletter

Local residents have published a newsletter which highlights emerging issues in the Lowfields area. The initiative comes after Council officials admitted that inadequate notice had been given of a “drop in” meeting that they held at the library last week.

There are several planning applications for the Lowfields site which are due to be considered over the next few weeks. Residents are being urged to make their views known.

There is scope to provide proper off street hard hard standing at the flats on little Green lane

The snicket link on little Tudor Road has not been swept regularly

There is concern about the impact of anti social behaviour in the area when the snicket linking little Tudor Road to Dijon Avenue is reopened.

Residents have also suggested that while plant is in the area, improved off street parking should be provided for those tenants living in flats next to the snicket.

Elsewhere there is pressure for alternative parking bays to be provided before the new access to the Lowfields site is constructed near number 106. Several off street parking spaces will be lost when the new road is constructed.

There is still no firm news on when the much promised, but never delivered, additional parking bays will be provided on Dijon Avenue. It appears that the Council has abandoned a plans to site them near the Green Lane junction.

Lowfields Residents Action Group newsletter Feb 2019

Lowfields Residents Action Group newsletter Feb 2019

 

 

Some good news as Council acts on dangerous plant found at Lowfields

Japanese Knotweed

A planning application, which would see a patch of Japanese Giant Knotweed removed from the Lowfields playing field, has been submitted.

Specialists will remove the invasive plant from a section on the west of the site.

The reason it can cause a threat is because it grows so rapidly. Each plant can grow up to an inch a day and has the ability to mature rapidly across a large surface area.

As it grows so quickly it can actually cause a lot of structural damage. It can cause damage to tarmac and concrete, increase erosion, damage retaining walls, damage building foundations and block drainage pipes.

The planning application can be found by clicking here. It is work that would need to be undertaken even if redevelopment were not to take place.

Location of Hogweed on Lowfields site plan

Lowfields and commune housing

The Lowfields Playing Field Action Group have recorded an objection to plans to build 19 “communal living” homes on the Lowfields site. Although the Action Group states that it has no “in principle” objection to the development of this part of the site (they are mainly concerned about the loss of the nearby sports field and green open space) they have highlighted several issues.

One of these was a “behind closed doors” decision – only just published by the Council – to sell off 0.7 acres of land, to the “Yorspace” developers, for only £300,000. That would mean a plot cost of around £15,000 – far below the market value. A typical housing plot is that part of the City is currently fetching in excess of £50,000.

The decision was taken by a Council officer.

The papers to support he decision are very thin on detail. The Council can only legally sell at below market value if it can demonstrate that a lower priced sale “will facilitate the improvement of economic, environmental or social well-being of the area“.

Apparently the official was convinced that the shared ownership model being proposed would ensure that a continuing supply of low cost housing would result from the development.

But will it?

The papers don’t suggest that those who will occupy the homes, are required to be registered on the housing waiting list. There is no maximum income level mentioned for shareholders. There doesn’t seem to be any requirement for the investors to be York citizens or even UK residents.

As the homes turn over, it is unclear how investors in later years will be selected.

Housing subsidies are a controversial area. A more straight forward option would simply to have built more Council houses on the site (The Council’s housing debt ceiling has recently been lifted by the government).

But this is clearly an area where full transparency is needed. This would ensure that innovative house funding and ownership models are encouraged, while safeguarding the taxpayer’s interests. Sadly it appears that no York Councillor has had the wit or wisdom to press for all the facts to be made public.

The Action Group has also highlighted concerns about parking provision, security and nature conservation issues on the plans which can be viewed by clicking here

Lowfields Action Group planning objection Feb 2019

 

Latest planning applications for the Westfield Ward

 Below are the latest planning applications received by the York Council for the Westfield ward.

Full details can be found by clicking the application reference

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63 Green Lane Acomb York YO24 3DJ

Conditions 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 & 14 of 17/00884/FUL.

Ref. No: AOD/19/00017 

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Lincoln Court Ascot Way York

Three storey extension to accommodate 15 new flats with associated alterations to internal layout of existing flats (creating 10 new flats in total), single storey front extension to form new main entrance, erection of plant room to side, reconfiguration of parking provision and associated landscaping works including new boundary fencing (revised scheme)

Ref. No: 19/00083/FULM 

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159 Westfield Place Acomb York YO24 3HN

Single storey side extension

Ref. No: 18/02948/FUL 

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9A Hawkshead Close York YO24 2YF

Dormer to rear (revision to planning permission 17/02473/FUL).

Ref. No: 18/02792/FUL 

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Former Lowfield School Dijon Avenue York

Conditions 6 & 34 of 17/02428/FULM.

Ref. No: AOD/19/00001 

——

Former Lowfield School Dijon Avenue York

Condition 30 of 17/02428/FULM.

Ref. No: AOD/18/00368 

——

Yorspace proposed development plan, Lowfields

Former Lowfield School Dijon Avenue York

Erection of 5 apartments, 5 two bedroom housing units, 6 three bedroom housing units, 3 four bedroom housing units and a shared common house/amenity block and associated infrastructure to form community housing development

Ref. No: 18/02925/FULM 

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Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning on line web site.  http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received

Haxby Hall elderly persons home plan hits buffers

Haxby Hall

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!