Multi storey car park gets planning approval

The proposal to build a multi storey car park on the St Georges Field site received planning permission yesterday. The car park is intended as a replacement for the Castle Car park which would be grassed over.

Castle car park last summer

We have said before that we believe this site is too far from the City centre shops to help to sustain the retail economy.

The Castle car park is the most heavily used in the City. One key reason is that it is within comfortable walking distance for those carrying heavy items of shopping.

The drift to out of city retail centers would continue with the City centre left as a visitor attraction hub sustaining only, what is left of, the pubs and restaurants that may survive the pandemic

The pandemic has changed all the numbers.

It now simply makes no sense to spend £55 million on a scheme which could lose the City much needed jobs

The Council should shelve the plans. They should not be bought off by government financial bribes. The country needs to invest wisely to maximise economic recovery.

The City can tolerate the Castle car park for another decade.

In the interim, the Council can make plans which recognise that personal transport will remain a popular method of moving people from the suburbs and region into the City centre. It is a matter of individual choice.

In future the vehicles used may, however, be battery powered.

The idea of having the area, within the inner road road, designated as an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) may well be one that has now found its time.

The move to home working – and with it greatly reduced congestion and emission levels in the central area – provides the Council with some thinking time.

A quieter City centre would be bad news for many service based shops, hair dressers etc., They will be hoping that visitors would expand to fill the gap in trade left by office workers.

The Councils draft budget for 2021/22 anticipates a £375,000 saving on office costs – a clear indication that the authority itself believes that many staff will never return to West Offices. The same will be true of other City Centre companies

The Councils budget also contains a commitment to borrow £2.5 million to spend on the Castle Piccadilly scheme. In addition the £28.2 million proposals to construct flats at Castle Mills are budgeted separately

That would simply add to the additional interest and redemption costs of £1.6 million which will account for much of the 1.9% increase in Council Tax levels from 1st April. (The remaining 3% hike is earmarked for social care).

So time now for some prudent revisions to the Councils investment plans.

Castle Piccadilly plans

York transport and planning policies stalling

 The decision of the York Councils planning committee to delay a decision, on a plan to replace the Castle Car park with a multi storey alternative at St Georges Field, throws into contrast the conflicting policies of the present Council.

The multi-story option emerged after nearly 2 years of public agonising. £2.2 million has already been spent on design work, consultants fees and consultation costs. The resulting plan didn’t suit everyone (including us) but it did present a way forward.

Multi storey car parks are usually ugly, there can be security issues, they concentrate vehicle movements onto limited sections of the road network and – in the case of the St Georges Field site –  park visitors to far away from their ultimate destinations whether that be shops, work or hospitality outlets.

The Council had submitted its planning application despite already acknowledging that changes to the Castle car might have to wait until the, Coronavirus prompted recession, has eased.

No great problem.

The Castle car park has been there for decades and it is the parking location of first choice for many shoppers and visitors. In July and August this summer it was rammed full.

Castle car park full to overflowing this summer

Now a Planning Committee has rejected the St Georges Field plan by 8 votes to 7. The key vote was cast by Cllr J Barker a hitherto low profile LibDem Councillor from Poppleton. The same meeting also deferred consideration of a new housing scheme on the former Castle Mills car park site.

That car park was lost to general use over a year ago and is still unavailable.

Like the odd decision last year, when Labour Councillors bounced the Council into pledging to stop through traffic from using Lendal Bridge, the impracticalities and contradictions in policy now threatened the economic recovery of the City.

The Council has said it will spend £40,000 consulting on the future of car parking in the City centre. If it appoints consultants to undertake the exercise then they will come under pressure from sectional interest groups including the “folksy fringe” who really don’t want any city centre car parking provision at all.

Personal transport remains the preferred mode for getting around for many people. Post COVID, cycling levels have fallen and public transport use has collapsed.

Meanwhile the number of City centre shops going into administration is creeping upwards.

The beginning of the new year – traditionally a poor time of year for traders – may see even more businesses facing ruin.

Some consistency from the York Council is required to avoid an economic collapse

Planning application for new St George’s Field car park submitted.

Plans for the new St George’s Field multi-storey car park and coach park have been submitted and are available for viewing and comments as part of the next steps in the Castle Gateway project.

The submission of the planning application for St George’s Field is a major milestone in the delivery of the regeneration of the Castle Gateway. Once complete, the new car park will allow for the permanent closure of Castle Car Park, to create an expanse of new high quality public space for the city.

The relocation of the car parking would also remove a significant number of car journeys from inside the inner ring road, helping residents and visitors get around more sustainably in this part of city.

The planning application has been developed through a range of in depth public engagement events that took place throughout the spring and summer to explore the design options for the multi-storey car park and public spaces..

The new, modern four-storey car park would provide 372 large car parking spaces over 5 levels, with the fifth level of parking situated on the roof. 15 % of the parking spaces will be for electric vehicle charging with the ability to increase these as demand grows.

City of York Council have worked closely with the Environment Agency and  Historic England, to ensure the proposed plans have minimal impact on the functioning floodplain and surrounding heritage, creating high quality architectural design. Vehicle and pedestrian access at first floor level of the car park means it would continue to be in use even when the River Ouse is in flood.

After the planning application has been validated by the council’s planning team in the coming days, it will be available to view at under reference number 19/02063/FULM

Further information can be found on the My Castle Gateway project at

The new car park would be funded through a new residential development on the site of the now demolished Castle Mills Car Park. As part of the plans a new public bridge spanning the River Foss would connect Piccadilly and the rear of the Castle Museum, opening up a planned cycle and pedestrian route along the river into town.

The planning application for the residential development on the site of the Castle Mills building, providing new riverside apartments for sale, council housing and a pedestrian/cycle bridge across the Foss can be expected later in October.

Councillor Nigel Ayre, executive member for finance and performance, said:

“The planning application for St George’s Field Car Park marks a key stage in the Castle Gateway regeneration. The Castle Gateway area offers a great opportunity to put family-friendly public spaces, better transport links and places for York businesses at the heart of the city.

“The design of St George’s Field car park is built on extensive public engagement, bringing together the diverse range of opinions on an important part of our city. The application is now open for comments, so please take a look and participate in this important process.”

The proposed building includes living walls, a feature external staircase, and solar panels. New government regulations that have been introduced since the plans were last shared with the public have restricted the use of timber cladding on car parks, so the plans propose an  alternative natural and sustainable material to achieve the same effect alongside the green ‘living’ wall.