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

Lincoln Court modernisation set to double in cost.

Council admits it got costs wrong

Modernisation plans 2018

The estimated cost of modernising the independent living flats at Lincoln Court has increased from £1.9 million to £4.8 million. Council officials, in a report to an executive committee meeting next week, admit that they got their measurement figures wrong in a report published in March 2018.

A contract for £4.7 million had already been let for the Windsor House/Lincoln Court redevelopment 

The new scheme would include 15 new apartments which would meet disabled access standards. In total there would be 35 units on the site.

Although the report has not been approved, Council officials have already submitted a planning application for the scheme. The planning application is due to be determined on 20th March 2019.

It is currently blocked by an objection from Sport England.

Sport England objects to the loss of the all-weather games area on which the extension to Lincoln House will be constructed. They insist that a replacement is provided.

A local residents association supports Sport England’s position.

It has been suggested that a new games area could be provided nearby on the Thanet Road Sports Area.

Kingsway MUGA

The report seeks to address to sports area issue by saying “To note that in approving Option 1 a commitment is made for alternative recreational facilities following community consultation including Sport England within Westfield Ward in mitigation for the loss of the Multi Use Games Area. The alternative facilities provided are to be agreed by Executive and will be subject to a further report and budget approval”

That isn’t likely to cut any ice with residents who will want to know what it to be provided and when before any planning application is approved. (The last ploy by officials was that some outdoor gym equipment would be provided on Chesneys field)

The report also candidly accepts that the new scheme will reduce the amount of garden space available for Lincoln Court residents.

That will not be popular.

No attempt is made to address the lack of car parking provision or the effect on traffic congestion, on approach roads, that the expansion will have.

Altogether too little, too late from Council officials who have treated tenants and neighbours with little more than contempt over the last 12 months.

Sport England reaffirm their opposition to loss of Kingsway all weather play area

Could the Council fund an upgrade of the Thanet Road Sports area?

The future of the  all weather games (MUGA) provision in the Kingsway part of York remains unclear. Sport England – with the backing of local Netball and Football governing bodies – is insisting that, if the present facility is removed, then a similar provision must be made nearby.

In effect, Sport England have a veto over new developments if they involve the loss of sports fields. They can insist that a development application  is referred to the Secretary of Sate for a decision.

The Foxwood Residents Association has also voiced its concerns claiming that a fitness trail – planned by officials for Chesney’s Field  – would not meet the informal sports/leisure needs of the 8 – 13 age group.  Instead they urge that discussions take place with the Acorn Rugby Club aimed at funding improvements, and wider access, to the floodlit area that is already in place on the Thanet Road Sports area.

York Council officials are being particularly stubborn on this issue. It is putting at risk a plan to modernise the sheltered housing flats at Lincoln Court.

Some flexibility, urgency and imagination in addressing the issues now needs to be shown by both Councillors and officers at West Offices. 

Sport Englands representations can be read by clicking here

The  Residents Association comments can be read here

Planning updates – Lincoln Court and Lowfields

  • MUGA

    We understand that the Foxwood Residents Association have formally objected to the Councils plans to “replace” the children’s all-weather games area on Kingsway. The objection stems from the Councils proposal to build “fitness equipment” on Chesneys Field during the summer. The Association points out that no consultation has taken place over this proposal which could intensify the use of what is Public Open Space. When a similar idea was mooted 2 years ago, the preferred site for a fitness track was judged to be the Thanet Road Sports Area. The Association have suggested that the Council seek a partnership with the Acorn Rugby Club which could see a new 3G games area provided. Sport England have also objected to the Council’s plans

  • The Yorspace proposals for the Lowfields site have been criticised by the local Drainage Board. They are asking for further details of how surface water runoff will be handled. They point out the fact that – for the whole site –  water run off is likely to be more severe than occurs from the existing greenfield use. There are already some problems with flooding in the gardens of some properties in the Green Lane and Tudor Road area.
  • Separately the Lowfields Residents Group has objected to plans which would see the number of off street parking spaces reduced near 108 Tudor Road. They are also concerned about the traffic implications of building a new access road onto the Lowfields site

NB. The contract for “enabling works” at Lowfields was awarded to NMCN. It is valued at £260,000. The end date for the contract is 19th April 2019.

Lincoln Court and the MUGA – Sport England acts

Kingsway MUGA

Sport England have issued a formal objection to the Council’s latest plans for the Lincoln Court area. As a statutory consultee they can veto any proposals which involve the loss of sports facilities. In this case, the Councils plan to demolish the adjacent Multi User Games Area (MUGA) – without providing a replacement – has triggered the objection.

Sport England had expressed concerns about Councils plans prior to the Planning Committee meeting which took place in December. Their comments at that time were ignored by Councillors.

If the Council continues to turn a blind eye to the objection, then the planning application will have to be referred to the Secretary of State for determination.

Sport England make it clear, in their representation, that they believe an alternative games facility can be provided nearby. Residents have suggested the new school playing fields or the Thanet Road sports area as possible locations.

Several of the flats at Lincoln Court are now empty.

There is a growing concern that the building, and the adjacent Windsor House, may be empty for an extended period.

Similar Council owned buildings have been left to rot in recent years (Guildhall, Ashbank, Oakhaven, Castlegate, etc.) suggesting that the Councils property management processes need to be overhauled.

In the meantime the planning application remains open for residents to record any objections that they may have.  Email planning.comments@york.gov.uk quoting ref 19/00083/FULM

Lincoln Court – Council admits planning blunder

The sorry saga surrounding the Councils plans to modernise and extend the Lincoln Court independent living building on Ascot Way has taken a new twist.

A brand new planning application has been submitted. If approved, it will replace the ill fated and poorly judged proposal passed by the Planning Committee as recently as December. The new proposal is for a “three storey extension to accommodate 15 new flats with associated alterations to the internal layout of existing flats (creating 10 new flats in total), a single storey front extension to form a new main entrance, erection of a plant room to side, reconfiguration of parking provision and associated landscaping works including new boundary fencing”.

Planning report Dec 2018

That decision was criticised because it ignored a request by Sport England that a replacement all weather games facility be provided in the neighbourhood when the existing facility was developed. The extensions to Lincoln Court are partly to be built on the games area. Sport England made a specific request for a replacement with possible sites being identified by local residents on the new area of playing field being provided at the school or alternatively on the Thanet Road sports area.

Another mistake made by the committee was to require that the additional 10 flats being provided at Lincoln Court be extra care” units. They would have required 24/7 staffing support. Officials later privately confirmed that this was a mistake and that it had been intended to provide an additional 10 flats identical in function to those existing on the site.

The “extra care” argument had been used to justify providing only 16 parking spaces to service the planned 36 flats and the staff and visitors to the much larger new building (see extract from December report). There are currently 12 parking spaces allocated to Lincoln Court. Many of them are heavily used with visiting staff sometimes being force to park on adjacent roads.

The way that the Planning Committee handled the December application was subject to a formal complaint in December. A response from the Council is still awaited.

Unfortunately, the new planning application does not address the parking issue despite claims by officials that the ”extra care” units did not require a parking space and hence could justify providing only 16 spaces. There is an underused grassed area to the south of the site which could have matrix protection installed and which could then be used as overspill car parking.

More seriously, the Council continues to turn a blind eye to the concerns about lack of provision for younger people in the neighbourhood. We would expect the Sport England condition to be incorporated into any revised permission.

NB. No action is planned on escalating traffic congestion issues in the area. Problems on the narrow roads in the estate are being exacerbated by recent planning permissions for additional housing in the estate which only has one access route. The December plan attracted more criticism when it was revealed that the elderly residents would have to move out of their homes for over 12 months while the work took place

Work starts on edging park footpaths – more on Lincoln Court

Dickson park footpaths being edged. Residents are seeking similar work in other areas

The Kingsway all weather games area is now in good condition and available for use. Unfortunately the Council has decided to scrap it and have ignored a request from Sport England that a replacement be provided elsewhere. The decision is now subject to a formal complaint

The scaffolding has been removed from Lincoln Court. We understand that work on installing a new boiler, pipework and a full rewire of the building – together with the construction of 10 additional flats – will not commenced until the late spring at the earliest. In the meantime most of the building is likely to remain empty.

Windsor House may also be empty for a period of time. Demolition work can’t start until a replacement central heating system has been provided for Lincoln Court

Landmark report reveals active lives of York’s children.

New research published by Sport England yesterday, carried out independently by Ipsos MORI, reveals the nation-wide challenge to help children lead more active lives.

Sport England report

In the face of this, the City of York is reported to have higher than average levels of children engaging in sports and physical activity on a daily basis.

The largest ever survey of its kind, Active Lives Children and Young People, has provided comprehensive insight into how children in England are taking part in physical activity both in and out of school. It shows that around 3 million children (43.3%) lead active lives, doing an average of 60 or more minutes of physical activity a day. However, just over 2.3 million children and young people (32.9%) are less active which means they do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day.

The report is based on responses from over 130,000 children aged 5-16 in England during the academic year 2017 to 2018. It also reveals that there are significant inequalities based on family income, showing that children from the most affluent families are more active than those in the least affluent families.

The report was released on the same day as the York Council decided to demolish the only, free access, all weather games area in west York. A Sport England request for the facility to be replaced was ignored by planning Councillors

For York, the report shows encouraging results, with the city having a higher percentage of children meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s physical activity guidelines of at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity per day, and lower than average percentages of children falling into the ‘less active’ category (see below).

Cllr Carol Runciman, Executive member for adult social care and health said, “It’s encouraging to see the high percentages of children in York taking up the opportunity to live active lives and benefit their physical health early in life. We still want to see these figures continue to rise as we ensure children of all backgrounds can access opportunities to make healthy life choices and get active.

“Since that academic year we have launched our #MoveMoreYork campaign, encouraging everyone across the city, all ages and abilities, to move more in their everyday life and make healthy choices which can benefit them for the rest of their life.”

MUGA mugged – another blow for leisure provision in the Westfield area

Children’s ball games facility demolished

Despite objections from Sport England, Councillors approved the demolition of the Kingsway MUGA last night. No replacement all weather games area is planned

According to the Council’s own figures the Westfield area has the largest deficiency in sports and active leisure facilities in the City.

It also has the largest problem with child obesity 

The committee failed to include the conditions requested by Sport England which would have seen an alternative games area provided elsewhere before the existing facility was demolished.

Council officials claimed that the MUGA was derelict and disused. In fact, only minor repairs – which have been outstanding for over 12 months – would be required to bring the facility back into use.

Additional conditions requested by LibDem Councillors were voted down.

Correspondence between the Council and Sport England – and verbal claims by an official last night – suggest that planning committee members were misled. This could lead to a formal complaint about the way the MUGA issue has been handled.

The Council has failed to include the most recent correspondence on the issue on the “planning on line” web site.

This is the second time that the Council has misled Sport England about planning issues.

Earlier in the year a report on the provision of new football pitches on Tadcaster Road claimed that they would be used by Woodthorpe Wanderers football club.

They were later forced to admit that Woodthorpe Wanderers had folded 6 months previously.