Action needed on verges and roads

The Council will be publishing its highways resurfacing programme for the next financial year shortly. There is now a major backlog of work in the area. It is not just potholes that need filling. Large areas of carriageway and several footpaths need patching or resurfacing.

The present Council promised to reconstruct all highways in the City, so it will be interesting to see the extent of next years programme.

School Street remains in poor condition.
Verge damage in Dijon Avenue

Problems with verge damage in the Dijon Avenue area have escalated since building work started on the Lowfield site

£500,000 grant for York communal housing group

The York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was today asked to grant £1/2 million to the Yorspace communal housing group.  The group claimed that their £4 million scheme would create 50 jobs in the construction sector and would be built to uniquely high levels of sustainability.

A report to the decision meeting held today says “This project is a departure from what the Local Growth Fund has supported to date”

LEPs were set up to “support growth, create new jobs and businesses

Although Yorspace identify 50 new jobs in the construction sector and high insulation standards in the homes, these are far from unique outcomes.

The developer claims it will build “19 low carbon homes….constructed on the Lowfield Green site using biobased sustainable construction materials….sourced locally….and have low embodied carbon, create low energy healthy homes and produce zero waste“.  LEP officials observe that it is unclear what this actually means

The alternative of developing the land for Council housing would have produced the same outcomes. The Council has agreed that all its new build properties will be to “Passivhaus” environmental standards.

The LEPs independent appraiser identified a few weaknesses such as unclear aspects of  procurement, state aid and match funding.

Yorspace is a communal housing cooperative in which house occupiers buy a stake. Originally it was thought that the group would provide homes for the less well off but that seems to be less clear now. Their pitch now seems to be based on the use of ultra sustainable building materials

When the York Council offered to sell a plot for the 19 homes on the Lowfields site it did not impose conditions which would have required the units to be occupied by the less well off, by those on the housing waiting list or even to those currently living in York or North Yorkshire.

No groups such as “key workers” are targeted for the occupation of the units

The project has already been offered a cheap land deal at Lowfields by the York Council and hopes to attract £855,000 from Homes England. Yorspace and its partner the “Lowfield Green Housing Cooperative” currently have joint assets of around £5000. They recently ran a “crowd funding” appeal.

The LEP are clearly concerned that other house builders might regard any state subsidy as unfair. The report says,  “State Aid: The most appropriate applicant – Yorspace or the Lowfield Green Housing Co-operative – needs to be identified, then the State Aid position clarified in the light of this. This also needs to address potential objections from other housebuilders when any LEP grant is publicised”.

The LEP report concludes “In recommending provisional approval it is in recognition that this is an unusual but innovative project that needs further support and assistance and may in the end not be able to be funded”.

The York Council has not debated their approach to this latest application for a taxpayer funded subsidy.

LEP papers are published on their web site but are not easy to find. Meetings attract little advanced publicity.

The meeting report can be downloaded by clicking here

Grant application to LEP

Lowfields residents slam York council information blackout

Residents living in the Lowfields area have taken to Facebook to express their disappointment about the lack of information being provided on the nearby school site development.

They have seen a Council newsletter which tells them what the names will be of the new streets which are currently being constructed. The Council credits/blames pupils at a local school for the choice of Rosemary Road, Moss Bank Court etc.

The newsletter also claims that the first occupants will move in before the end of the year,.

This may be true, but residents main concern is lack of information about the lack of activity on other parts of the site.

The Facebook critics say

“no new information about when building work on the whole site will be concluded. Residents were told that plant would be off the site within 3 years.

It now looks like building work will continue for over 5 years.

We understand that the “Yorspace” communal housing scheme funding appeal topped out at just over £400,000. It remains to be seen whether this will be sufficient to allow the scheme to actually get built.

The self build plots are apparently still “on offer” while there have been no takers from developers wanting to provide a care home (on the large reserved plot on the Green Lane side of the site).

Council newsletter Feb 2020

The location reserved for a “police station” is likely to remain empty indefinitely (there will be no police station) while there has been no progress on designing the “new health centre” which was promised for another part of the site.

No progress has been made in providing off site additional car parking spaces on Dijon Avenue.

It is really shameful that the Council should circulate a cheap leaflet like this without even attempting to address the major areas of local concern to local residents”.

WE think that residents have a point. They have been treated very badly by the York Council and deserve more respect and regular updates.

No one should have to live next to a building site for 5 years or more, simply because a local authority failed to get its act together

Delays in York Council investment programme

A report which is being discussed on Thursday reveals that the Council has fallen behind with several major investment projects.

 It means that funding is being slipped from 19/20 into future financial years.

The biggest embarrassment is the Community Stadium project which is between 8 and 1 year behind schedule depending on when you started counting.

A development for the homeless on James Street has also recently been revealed as lagging 12 months behind its target completion date (although it doesn’t rate a mention in the Council report).

Setting the scene for a major increase in investment (and consequent debt levels), the report makes some strange claims.

Centre of Excellence for Disabled children “opening in May?)

Foremost amongst them is a statement that the Centre of Excellence for the Disabled, currently being constructed on Ascot Way, will open for business in May of this year. Really?

Site for new football pavilion

Lowfields

We are assured that show homes at Lowfields will also be available in “late summer” while the waterlogged Ashfield football site – located off Tadcaster Road – will have a clubhouse open by September!

Perhaps more understandably, cautious officials now say that the Community Stadium will be opening to the public “during the year”. No more hostages to fortune then!

Lowfields elderly persons accommodation

Report published but little progress

The Lowfields Playing Field Action Group Facebook page is reporting that the York Council is dithering over a decision on the elderly persons accommodation planned for Lowfields and for Oakhaven.

Lowfields plans in 2016

The group says,

“A new report has been published today. It concerns the use of the plot at Lowfields (and a similar site at Oakhaven) which was reserved for an elderly person home. The Council sought tenders from developers and operators for the sites but were unable to find anyone prepared to undertake the project.

The Council is now agonising about what to do next.

Lowfields care village 2011 plans

The obvious answer is to market the plot (which is brownfield land) with the only use restriction being that any development should be aimed at older people. There are a lot of elders living in large properties who are seeking to “downsize” and both sites are ideally located near amenities.

We might then get back to the Hartrigg Oaks type of development which was the preferred choice for the Lowfield site when first discussed in 2010.

If the Council continues to be indecisive, the residents can expect building works on the site to continue long after the three year target completion date”.

Report click here https://democracy.york.gov.uk/…/Lowfield%20Oakhaven%20Healt…

“Deep clean” requested on key snickets

Many short cut “snickets” get a lot of use. They are vulnerable to litter while large amounts of leaf and other detritus can accumulate. Some are obstructed by overgrown hedges and trees. The surfaces can wear quite quickly because of constant footfall. Many seem to be neglected by the Council although they are an essential part of the  plan to encourage more people to walk for short journeys. They deserve a higher priority for the Councils resources. 

Potholes on carriageway are also a disincentive for cyclists. We’ve reported continuing problems and Gale Lane and Foxwood Lane today

Work is progressing on two major building projects in west York. The centre for the disabled on Ascot Way is now getting its roof installed. Modernisation work, on the adjacent Lincoln Court sheltered accommodation, is taking place at the same time.

Disabled centre on Ascot Way. Single lane traffic working now in place.

Work has also started on constructing houses on the controversial Lowfield development. A decision on how the section of the site reserved for elderly persons housing will be developed is expected next month. 

Lowfield development
Finally another example of a self seeded tree which has been allowed to grow to the point where it is pushing over the railings which protect a water pumping station (Foxwood Lane). There is plenty of room a few metres away on which trees could be planted which would cause no problems for anyone

Tudor Road choked with building site trucks.

Residents posting on the Save Lowfields Playing Field Facebook group ( https://www.facebook.com/LowfieldsActionGroup/ ) are reporting chaotic scenes this morning as large trucks queue on Tudor Road to gain access to the site.

There have been problems with congestion as the trucks arrived as pupils were making there way to school. Tudor Road is relatively narrow and is on a bus route.

Neither the contractors nor the Council have said how many large vehicle journeys can be expected at this entrance each day and to what timescales.

One of the objections, to the planning application for the development of the site, related to safety concerns about the Gale Lane/Tudor Road junction.

The York Council claimed that the junction had the capacity to deal with extra movements but many residents remain sceptical.

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

—-

Former Lowfield School Dijon Avenue York

Condition 26 of 17/02428/FULM

Ref. No: AOD/19/00411 

  1. This relates to sewer easements

—–

Grass Verge Greenwood Grove York

Crown lift Oak protected by Tree Preservation Order no. 26

Ref. No: 19/02602/TPO 

—–

64 Moorgate York YO24 4HJ

Single storey front and side extensions and dormer to rear

Ref. No: 19/02551/FUL 

—–

Friends Meeting House The Green Acomb York YO26 5LR

Installation of insulated render to rear elevation with associated alterations

Ref. No: 19/02519/FUL 

——

Acomb Flooring Company Limited 53A Front Street York YO24 3BR

Change of use from retail (A1) to Pilates studio (D2)

Ref. No: 19/02488/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

Building work starting at Lowfields

Building work has started on the controversial Lowfield housing development.

The houses are being built on a playing field without any accessible alternative facility being made available by the York Council.

It has also been revealed that Yorspace has still not completed the purchase of the “communal housing” development site which is located near little Tudor Road.

The purchase from the Council was due to take place in September according to an EIR/FOI response (ref. IGF/16163) published by the York Council in August. There had been some controversy over the sale, as the purchase price agreed by the Council (£300,000) was pitched at a level well below the amount being asked for other building land in the same area.

Despite this, officials say that the sale is still “with solicitors”.

NB. The Council owned access to the site from little Tudor Road is currently blocked by what appears to be an abandoned mini bus.

Lowfields care home set to be ditched

It looks increasingly likely that the Council will abandon its attempt to find a developer who is prepared to provide and run an elderly persons care home on the Lowfields site.

Current Lowfield development plan

Part of the old school building section of the site has been reserved for the provision of a new care home since 2010.

It was announced earlier in the year that no tenders had been received for provision of the home

The Councils own resources are tied up in other projects including the Lincoln Court redevelopment (see below).

A report to a meeting next week says that the greatest demand for older people is for independent living one bedroomed flats and bungalows. Some of these are already schedule to be built at Lowfields but it seems that more may now be provided on the reserved care home site.

Such a decision would be in line with the plans announced in 2010 but it is unlikely to impress those who have been affected by the indecision of the last 10 years. .

A Council report published yesterday says,

The planning approval for the Lowfield Green development includes outline approval for an 80-bed care home. It had originally been envisioned that a care home developer would be procured to build on the site, with the Council buying 25 dementia and Nursing care beds back at the Council’s Actual Cost of Care rates.

A procurement exercise to deliver this failed to attract any compliant bids.

At a similar time, Officers were completing research with our older residents about their accommodation preferences.

This research highlights residents desire to live independently with care and support available where needed. Officers have since been working to establish how best to develop Older Persons’ Accommodation on the site, which will support those with care needs and also complement the surrounding high-quality mixed tenure accommodation.

A report is expected to be presented to the executive in spring 2020”.

Care home site

The change of approach is the latest in a series of reverses which have affected the controversial development. Residents strongly opposed building on the sports pitch at the site.

The Council responded by offering inducements including a local Police station and health centre. Neither materialised.

Plans for a “communal” housing development are also in delay.

Work on building houses on the sports pitch section of the site are expected to start in January, although its is now thought that building works, across the whole site, may continue for 5 years or longer.  

We revealed yesterday that the Council is also set to abandon its plans to build a new care home on the Oakhaven site.