Piling on the grief at Hob Moor school

Contractors at the new centre for disabled children on Ascot Way were piling yesterday. The site is only a few metres from the school so it is unfortunate that the nosiest work couldn’t be completed before the new school term started.

The residents association at their meeting on Wednesday are likely to be demanding answers to questions about why work on the replacement off street games facilities for young people haven’t been started yet.

Residents were promised 6 months ago that an all weather surface would be provided at Thanet Road together with an outdoor gym.

Neither has appeared although the Kingsway MUGA was closed some 3 months ago

Ascot Way building works update

The cost of the Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children, currently being constructed on Ascot Way, has increased by £1.2 million.

Part of the additional funding is coming from the NHS

The “current timeline for the centre is for the main build to be completed by January 2020 with opening scheduled for May 2020”.

A council report says that, during quarter 1 within the Lincoln Court Scheme, the work to relocate all Lincoln Court tenants into alternative accommodation was completed successfully, this has then allowed Sewell’s to take possession of the site, undertake site set up and begin enabling works.

This has included a full invasive asbestos survey and works to build an access road and car parking for sub-contractors accessed via the Hob Moor primary academy site.

All the remaining window replacement works have been completed in this quarter as has the demolition of the single storey extension in preparation for works to begin for the new build extension.

The Council says that “the Centre of Excellence and Lincoln Court project teams have worked together to communicate with residents neighbouring the site and also to keep Ward Councillors updated on project progress. £750k budget has been transferred from 2019/20 into 2020/21”

There is still no update provided on  the promised replacement children’s games area will be provided

“Get a grip” call to local Councillors as footpath weed problem spreads

Residents have called on local Councillors to intervene to ensure that weeds growing on local paths and gutters are cleared. Today’s weather, damp and warm, is likely to see the problem get worse over the weekend.

Weeds are obstructing footpaths, gullies and garage areas in the Westfield Ward

In the little Green Lane garage area grass is now growing through the recently resurfaced forecourt. It is a similar situation in Windsor Garth

The weather also means that hedges will be growing more quickly. We’ve reported this bramble bush which is obstructing the public footpath near the entrance to Hob Moor school
Although the Council says that they have removed litter from the Tithe Close snicket, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Similar situation on The Reeves snicket
The only thing that the Council seems to be doing quickly this summer is knocking down parts of west York. This is all that is now left of the Windsor House elderly persons home. There is some mud on local roads which needs to be monitored.
Still no sign of the replacement for the children’s games area at Hob Moor. Contractors using the old all weather games area for storage are at least polite!

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.

Games area being ripped up by contractors

The demolition contractors for the Windsor House/Lincoln Court/Hob Moor school developments have taken over the Multi User Games Area (MUGA) on Kingsway West.

It in no longer accessible for local children.

Councillors have reportedly agreed to it being used as a building compound.

Sections of the fencing around the area have been removed to allow access to a new service road. The entrance used by children has been secured.

While the loss of the play area is not unexpected following a controversial planning decision a few months ago, the failure of the Council to provide updates on when a replacement facility will be provided (and where) is very disappointing. The location favoured by Sports Clubs and local residents, is on the Thanet Road All Weather Sports area near the junction of Gale Lane and Thanet Road.

At one point the Council promised funding for a new facility but all has gone quiet since the LibDems took control of the Council at the beginning of May.

The loss of the sports facility comes in the wake of similar erosion of facilities in the Westfield area with the Lowfields playing field now being developed as is the Acomb Bowling Club.

The Our Lady’s school field was developed about 3 years ago.

Support for the provision of more public open space – possibly in the form of new strays – on the outskirts of the City is growing.

New access road constructed across Hob Moor school playing field
MUGA entrance sealed
Access road into site compound

Costs up on Council’s Ascot Way development plans

It looks like there are more problems ahead, as the York Council tries to let contracts to establish a new Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children (CEDC) and a major expansion of the Lincoln Court  independent living building.

A year ago, the Council said that it would need to invest £4.3 million in the CEDC. They later revised their budgets and agreed to borrow an additional £330,000 to fund the centre.

Centre of Excellence layout proposals

A £4.7 million contract was awarded in February to Sewell’s. It was said to cover work at both Windsor House and Lincoln Court.

Now papers released yesterday suggest that there may be a significant increase in the costs for the project. Officials are expected to make a case for extra investment at a meeting taking place on 18th June.  A note in the Councils Forward Programme says, “A value engineered exercise has been undertaken and further funds are required to ensure there is an adequate contingency. This needs to be done within this timeframe in order to meet the requirements of external health funding”.

The meeting will take place after the local elections in May so it is anyone’s guess what will now happen to the project.

A cost drift has also occurred on the Lincoln Court side of the project. Earlier this month officials admitted that the cost had soared from £1.9 million to £4.8 million.

The Lincoln Court project is still mired in controversy. The planning approval is being referred to the Secretary of State for consideration for calling in. The move stems from objections from local sports organisations and residents who want to see the existing all-weather play area moved to Thanet Road. The play area would be lost under the Council’s current proposals.

There are also concerns about access arrangements for the buildings both during building works and afterwards. A case has been made for a private (pedestrian) access to be made available to the adjacent school car park. So far, the Council has turned a blind eye to the suggestion, reinforcing concerns about traffic congestion and parking problems on Ascot Way

Both the CEDC and Lincoln Court modernisation have attracted widespread local support. It is a change that lack of attention to detail and poor consultation arrangements seem to be hindering progress.

Lincoln Court let down

The planning committee last night approved the proposals for the extension of Lincoln Court.

Proposed new layout

They failed to include a timetable for the replacement of the all-weather games area which will be destroyed as part of their plan.

Successive Council officials and Tory Councillors claimed that the “MUGA” had not been used.

 That is simply not true. The area was popular for many years but fell into decline because of lack of maintenance with overgrown bushes providing a screen which encouraged anti-social behaviour.

That was down to poor management by the York Council.

Nevertheless providing an alternative at the Thanet Road site would have been a positive proposal. The Councils executive had seemed to take a step in that direction on Monday when they offered to support a new facility.

Council officials admitted last night that they had not even opened discussions with the rugby club which currently leases the Thanet Road site.

 So, what have they been doing for the last 6 months?

The issue will now be referred to the Secretary of State for decision. Residents will make representations in support of Sport England’s position which is that an alternative should be provided before the existing facility is lost.

Lincoln Court

 If this results in delays, then it will be on the heads of the Councillors who last night voted through a scheme which not only sells down the river the hopes of younger people in the Westfield area but also endorses a scheme which provides only a very small external garden space for the use of the elderly residents of Lincoln Court.

Car parking provision is inadequate while a confused traffic management model can only lead to more congestion in the estate with verges and footpaths likely to be damaged by large vehicles.

Lincoln Court update

The Councils Executive discussed the planned extension of the Lincoln Court independent living building yesterday. They agreed to progress the scheme and included a requirement for an alternative all weather games area to be provided in the ward.

It will be up to the planning committee at its meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) to include a condition requiring that the new facility is provided before the existing MUGA is demolished.

Windsor House is already being vandalised

It emerged at the meeting that 14 of the remaining 19 tenants have now accepted offers of alternative accommodation. When the remaining 5 will be offered, and accept, a suitable alternative remains in doubt. The adjacent Windsor House building, which is empty, is already suffering vandalism and there is a concern that the whole site could become a magnet for anti social behaviour.

Large delivery lorries are ruining roads in Lowfields. Similar concerns about Ascot Way

The Council is negotiating with the school to allow builders plant to access the site from the school side. There have been major problems getting large items of plant into the Lowfields site where roads are of a similar width to Ascot Way.

It has yet to be confirmed whether an (pedestrian) access will be retained from the school site when the redevelopment has been completed. This is considered to be essential to provide overflow parking capacity given that only 16 spaces are being provided on the Ascot Way frontage.

Large plant on Lowfields site. Working hours planning condition being breached?

Sadly members of the executive failed to probe why the new apartments have been described, in successive Planning Committee reports, as “extra care” units.

No doubt residents will get more clarification tomorrow