Westfield Councillors to debate what to do about building works at public meeting tomorrow


Bowling club building site not on the agenda?

The Westfield Councillors are right to insist on more information being provided on building works in the area, when they meet tomorrow (Wednesday)

However, they will be meeting only a few metres away from the spoil heaps and site compound which has been constructed on the Council owned land to the rear of the Library.

Large spoil heap on Council land at the Acomb Library

Some explanation for the decision to allow the contractors to use this Council owned site will be expected. It is an issue that is not likely to go away.

Some residents still hope that Council will offer some sort of compensation for the problems that have been caused by the use of the compound

Elsewhere, the Lowfields development saga continues.

There has still not been any explanation about how the York Council came to mislead residents about the inclusion of a “police station” and health centre/GP surgery in the original consultation plans.

Both these promises turned out to be bogus. It is unclear what will happen to what, otherwise, will be unused plots on the east of the site.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Carriageway-cracking-on-Kingsway-West-1300hrs-5th-May-2019-.jpg
The Kingsway West carriageway is already breaking up

On Ascot Way, access arrangements, for the heavy plant needed to complete the demolition of Windsor House, remain unclear. It seems that access for the plant will be via Kingsway West and Ascot Way It is clear that the roads are too narrow in the area to avoid major damage to adjacent verges and paths. A “one way” system has been suggested but not confirmed.

There are real concerns that the bus route will be obstructed by the likely congestion

The original hope had been that more parking lay-bys would have been provided by now.

…..and the problem of the promised replacement for the all weather games area seems to be no closer to resolution. The existing MUGA has already been converted into a building compound.

Games area is now a building compound. No alternative provision for children has been provided

There is no word about the proposed alternative site on the Thanet Road Sports Area although officials were asked to follow this up 3 months ago.

Residents will no doubt be hoping that some answers emerge from the meeting

Spoil heaps dominate neighbouring properties on Lowfields Drive

£1.5 million cost for 3 football pitches

£850,000 to come from Lowfields project

The York Council courted controversy 2 years ago when it announced that the “replacement” football pitches – for those lost to the Lowfields development – would be provided on a site lying between Tadcaster Road and Bishopthorpe.

Playing fields at Lowfields have been dug up

The site is nearly 3 miles from Lowfield and does not have a direct public transport link.

In December 2017, the Councils Executive approved a £400,000 contribution from the Lowfields budget towards the Bishopthorpe plan. The project will provide a new home for the Bishopthorpe White Rose Football Club.

The new pitches must be ready before the new homes, being built at Lowfields, are occupied. Work on building the homes is due to start in August with road and some other infrastructure already in place.

Now a report to a meeting taking place next week reveals that the Council is to make a substantially greater contribution to the pitch project than has hitherto been admitted.

The Council will now, additionally, contribute £110,000 from Section 106 developer payments intended to provide alternative open space.

 A further £300,000 will come from a “Lowfields developer contribution”.  (The Council is, of course, the developer at Lowfields).

In total, therefore, the Council plans to spend around £850,000 on the scheme which, although it includes a clubhouse, now looks to be a very expensive way of providing 3 football pitches.

The Bishopthorpe football club itself will contribute £80,000, with the balance of £1/2 million coming from the Football Foundation.

Residents are bound to be angry about this latest example of Council duplicity. 

There is land available much nearer Lowfields which would benefit from open space investment. There is, for example, under-used land located between the built-up area and the ring road off Askham Lane.

…But this seems to have been overlooked as the local authority continues to snub the Westfield area.

NB. It also appears that Council officials have made no progress in finding an alternative location for the Kingsway games area. That facility is now being used as a building compound. The Council agreed 3 months ago to seek an alternative site on a nearby sports area and was to have opened negotiations with the current occupiers. Little progress seems to have been made

York’s green spaces; going, going…

It is sad to see so many green spaces in the City being gradually eroded.

The reality of planning decisions, taken by the Council over the last few years, are rapidly becoming clearer. The trend is particularly evident in west York where former school playing field have proved to be vulnerable.

It started with the development of the playing field at the former Our Lady’s school site on Windsor Garth. The “Hob Stone” estate took up the whole of the site with no open space retained.

Next was the controversial decision to build on the Lowfields playing field. The decision was made worse when over £400,000, intended to fund alternative sports pitches, was earmarked for a site near Bishopthorpe, which is some 3 miles from Lowfields.

Concrete now dominates the Lowfields school playing field

The Hob Moor playing field has been torn up and is now part of a building site
The Acomb Bowling club and adjacent Council owned land on Front Street is now also a building site

There are alternative brownfield (previously developed) sites in the City. Strangely the local MP over the weekend announced her opposition to building 2500 homes on the land to the rear of the station while planners have omitted the Strensall army camp from Local Development Plans.

There seems to be little reason why a development at the latter could not be restricted to the “built footprint” of the former army buildings. This would still leave large amounts of new public open space. That option is under consideration as part of the latest consultation on the Local Plan

But for west York the outlook remains bleak. The Council is still dilly dallying on proposals to replace the Multi User Games Area on Kingsway West. The existing one is no longer usable as it is no part of a buildng compound.

…and the newly elected Council, despite lofty talk of having a new “stray” in the City, has noticeably failed to put any flesh on the bones of the idea. Prompt action is needed to secure more public open space on the periphery of the City.

Currently there is little sign of any urgency, or even engagement, by the occupants of West Offices.

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.

——-

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

—-

63 Green Lane Acomb York YO24 3DJ

Conditions 3,4 and 7 of 17/00884/FUL 

Ref. No: AOD/19/00108 

——

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