That was the week that was in pictures

Council misled Lowfield residents

Two virtually identical planning applications were dealt with by Council officials last week.

Both concerned details of the current development taking place at Lowfield.

Both related to “alterations to bedrooms, house types, elevations, roof mounted PV, masterplan revisions, finished floor levels and boundary treatments”

2019 proposal was withdrawn on Tuesday. The 2021 proposal was approved on Wednesday

The second application additionally extended the permitted hours of working to include Saturday afternoons.

The first application (originally submitted in 2019) was withdrawn on Tuesday.

On Wednesday the new application was approved by officials using delegated powers.

The applications had been described as “non material amendments”. Given that the applicant, and the planning authority, were both the York Council, this give rise to claims of unfairness.

It is unlikely that affected neighbours understood what was going on behind closed doors.

Apart from the Saturday working proposal, the biggest concern relates to the the boundary fencing arrangement. Most residents had originally expected that the existing railings – which are in good condition and date from the time that the site was a school – would be retained.

The Council then proposed to remove the railings and substitute a close boarded fence.

Many neighbours feared that the removal of the railings would damage their adjacent gardens.

Rubbish accumulates between different fence layers

The latest plan involves the retention of the railings with a close boarded fence also being erected on the development side.

Double (or triple) fencing has not been a success elsewhere.

Maintenance is difficult.

Close boarded fences are an obstacle for wildlife.

They also squander the opportunity to use natural hedging which has environmental benefits.

The double fencing idea is, of course, also more expensive. Those facing a £295,000 bill for a three bedroomed semi might well have preferred the option to have a discount (and a boundary hedge).

Sadly this is another example of poor public relations on a controversial development which is now hopelessly behind schedule.

The damage to roads and verges in the existing Lowfield area is appalling while the noise nuisance now seem likely to extend into more of the weekend.

The issues are known to local Councillors.

The Lowfields Facebook page can be accessed by clicking here

Lowfields virtual tour

The Council has issued a media release saying that prospective house buyers at the Lowfields development can now take a “virtual tour”

The Council has not commented on the more controversial elements lf the development including the impact that the buildings works are having on neighbouring properties and roads.

Nor has any information been released on when work will start on the the promised community facilities or about the future of the “communal housing” plot, which is located in the south east corner of the site.

Significant changes to Lowfields Plans

Planning applications (see below) have been submitted which would see changes made to the Lowfields development. Many are relatively minor although some may cause concern for neighbours

Working hours

Saturday working until 3:00pm will be allowed on parts of the site. A Council official has already agreed to these changes which will permit work to continue on internal works, external paving and brick laying.

Officials say that the proposal is in line with government relaxations in the wake of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

The concession lasts until 2nd June 2021.

Proposed boundary arrangements
York Council Email
Boundaries

The perimeter railings are now to be retained. This proposal will be welcomed by many. The railings are generally in good condition and offer enhanced security protection.

Likely to be less welcome is a plan to install a 1.8 meter high closed boarded fence immediately behind the railings. While this may improve privacy, such arrangements have not proved to be successful elsewhere (Hob Stone, Cornlands Road/Redder Rad snicket).

The are maintenance problems for both sets of fences. Progress for mammals like hedgehogs is obstructed by close boarded fences, while an opportunity for compensatory planting is missed.

Undergrowth inevitably builds up between the two layers which is difficult to control.

We will be writing to the planning authorities to say that the inner fence should be replaced with screen planting, which would be better for both wildlife and for the environment.

Boundary treatments
Other changes

A complete list of changes is reproduced below.

The ridge and eves heights on the houses are being reduced while photovoltaic cells are being installed to generate power.

There still has been no statement from the Council about the future of the site reserved for “public buildings” or of the Yorspace communal living plots.

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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Former Lowfield School Dijon Avenue York

Non-material amendment to permitted application 17/02428/FULM to change HT06 house from 2no. bedroom to 3no. bedroom, amend footprints and window sizes to brick dimensions, change materials and window locations on elevations, install roof mounted PV to apartments and 71no. dwellings, change masterplan setting out, reduce ridge and eave heights to all house types by 50 to 610mm, and change boundary treatments

Ref. No: 21/00205/NONMAT 

See separate article for details


Former Lowfield School Dijon Avenue York

Proposed extension of conditioned construction working hours to include Saturday 08.00-15.00.

Ref. No: 21/00097/S74B 

The Gatehouse 6 Westfield Farm Askham Lane York YO24 3HU

Single storey rear and side extensions, wall with railings to front

Ref. No: 21/00164/FUL 

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

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

…and another football scheme gets into £300,000 budget difficulties

The plan to provide football pitches and a clubhouse for use by the Bishopthorpe football team on land off Sim Balk Lane was approved in June 2019.

Budget agreed in 2019

It was controversial as the Council agreed to contribute £850,000 towards the £1.5 million scheme, claiming that it would compensate for the loss of open space at Lowfields.

Residents were quick to point out the new pitches were 3 miles from Lowfields and that there wasn’t even a public transport link between the two areas.

Others commented that the clubhouse design seemed to be at the luxury end of the market.

One a more positive note, much improvements to the adjacent cycle path were promised as part of the project (they have not yet materialised)

It was agreed that the new facilities would be completed before the first homes at Lowfields were occupied.

Pavilion site last year

Now a Council report says that the delayed Bishopthorpe scheme is running £303,000 over budget. The costs of providing services to the pavilion are blamed for the increase.

The Council is now showing a contribution towards the project of £1,052,000 in its revised budget for this year. 

The report says that “£190k of additional funding has been identified to date, but this is not sufficient to cover the entire cost increase and the team is working to identify further funding to cover the remaining £113k overspend”.

No further details, an updated budget or completion timetable have been published.  

Transport plan for Lowfields

As reported below, a transport plan for the new Lowfields development has now been published.

In many ways, it is unexceptional.

A commentary on the proposals can be found on the Lowfields residents web site. https://www.facebook.com/LowfieldsActionGroup/posts/1905016099639770

One of the major issues with the development is the length of time that builders will be on the site (and adjacent roads). Residents were assured that 3 years would be the maximum.

That now looks to be very optimistic.

Nothing more has been heard of the Communal housing scheme (Yorspace). It is not even clear whether they have completed the purchase of their plot.

The Council itself is only now seeking tenders for the sheltered elderly persons accommodation. So that element is effectively 18 months behind schedule.

And, of course, there is still no word on the promised community facilities. Residents were delays rightly sceptical about whether the Health Centre and police station would ever materilise. It seems increasingly unlikely that they ever will.

It is significant that the Councils latest capital budget update report makes no direct reference to Lowfields. It simply shows that, of the total £24 million cost of building the houses, £16.5 million will be spent before then end of March 2021.

We think this is highly unlikely.

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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Former Lowfield School Dijon Avenue York

Conditions 16 and 19 of 17/02428/FULM

Ref. No: AOD/21/00034 

NB. This covers the “Sustainable Travel Plan” for Lowfields. Proposals include a car club, better bus stops etc. Click to read plan  

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1 Westfield Court Acomb York YO26 5FA

Crown lift all trees at front of the property to 5 metres; crown thin all trees by 10% and remove deadwood – tree works in a Conservation Area

Ref. No: 21/00167/TCA 

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18 The Green Acomb York YO26 5LR

Single storey side and rear extension

Ref. No: 21/00094/FUL 

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

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

House building moving ahead in Westfield

Work on two house building sites in the Westfield area is continuing despite the problems with COVID and, more recently, wet weather.

On Gale Lane the much delayed redevelopment of a site opposite the end of Cornlands Road is now underway. The site had been the subject of several different planning applications over the years.

61A Gale Lane

Elsewhere a further infill development is underway on Green Lane

Green Lane

The Green Lane site is close to the location of the bungalows which are due to be built on the Lowfields Site

Work on building bungalows on the Lowfields site has started.
The site reserved for “Yorspace” communal housing remains unoccupied.

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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26 Rosemary Road, Lowfields, York YO24 3FN

Erection of one detached 3-storey dwelling (Self Build Plot 6, Lowfield Green)

Ref. No: 20/01961/FUL 

26 Rosemary Road (back Tudor Road)

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10 Ascot Court, Gale Lane,  York YO24 3AE

Installation of balcony to rear

Ref. No: 20/01954/FUL 

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24 Wetherby Road Acomb York YO26 5BT

Single storey rear extension

Ref. No: 20/01941/FUL 

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17 Branton Place York YO26 5BQ

First floor rear extension and single storey rear extension

Ref. No: 20/01940/FUL 

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16 Redcoat Way York YO24 3NG

Single storey front extension

Ref. No: 20/01899/FUL 

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Christines Nail And Beauty 21 Front Street York YO24 3BW

Internal alterations including replacement of 8 internal doors with FD30 fire doors

Ref. No: 20/01763/LBC 

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

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