Consultation on latest Minster neighbourhood plan starts

The neighbourhood plan for the area surrounding York Minster has now been updated to include a new use for buildings vacated by the closure of the Minster School.  

The revised plan is now available for consultation (click)

While the closure of the school will be regretted by many (the pupils have moved to St Peters) the buildings formerly occupied by the school do offer exciting opportunities for both Cathedral management and the York community more generally.

The main changes from previous drafts affect the main access to the Minster. This will revert to the South Door (opposite the end of Stonegate).

Click to access

A ticket office would be established at existing buildings on Deangate.

The old school building would become a Refectory (restaurant). This is a facility provided at most major Cathedrals and would be a useful addition to the visitor experience in York.  

There are plans for an outdoor seating area, while the school field could become a “pop up” exhibition space.

The consultation period lasts until 14th February 2021 and can be accessed by clicking here

The Holy Trinity Church lies to the rear of the Old School building.

Dating from the 14th Century it currently can only be accessed from Goodramgate.

blue plaque outside the church marks the occasion when Anne Lister and her partner Ann Walker took Holy Communion together at the church at Easter 1834 an event popularised in the recent TV series “Gentleman Jack”.

The church is very much a hidden gem but attracts 75% “Five Star” reviews on Trip Adviser from those who manage to find it.

We think that new access and interpretation arrangements for the Holy Trinity Church should be considered as part of the review of the neighbourhood plan. Holy Trinity is currently the maintenance responsibility of the Churches Conservation Trust.

York Minster precinct plans

The Minster has commenced the final stage in its consultation over a new Neighbourhood Plan.

There have been some changes since the last survey mostly for the better.

 The new plan and feedback arrangements can be found by clicking this link

 The major areas of debate are likely to concern the plan to build a new cafe and visitor centre at 1 Deangate. Plans to build next to the south entrance have (rightly) been scrapped. The Minster Stone-yard exhibition barn will be moved away from this area (allowing uninterrupted views of the Cathedral).

Admission tickets will be sold from a property at the end of Stonegate/Minster Gates.  

It is less clear how the new boundaries of the (expanded) Minster school campus will be delineated.

Two cycle routes have been retained with one curving through Queens Walk and Minster Green while the other follows the existing carriageway line. The opportunity to provide a, daytime only, cycle route (by passing Deangate) through Deans Park has been missed.  

The new “Queen Elizabeth Square” which incorporates part of Duncombe Place, is retained. It is compromised by allowing vehicular access to the Dean Court Hotel and the Purey Cust homes.  Some will feel that a dropping off point near St Wilfred’s Church would allow reasonable access during pedestrian hours (with an electric hand trolley service if necessary). Many will feel that providing a turning circle for the, outdated, Railway Museum “train” is also an unnecessary feature.

Still the plans represent a measured and welcome approach to neighbourhood planning and, in many ways, are an exemplar for similar projects elsewhere in the City.

Minster statement January 2020
The area near the South entrance will be remodelled

West York neighbourhood planning boundary proposal set to be rejected

The Councils leadership is being recommended to reject a proposal which would have seen a joint neighbourhood plan prepared covering the Acomb and Westfield Wards. The proposal was widely criticised as being ”too big” to meet a key community of interest test.

The majority of respondents to the Councils consultation opposed the plan.

Opponents included the local residents association, an action group and the Westfield ward Councillors. (The Acomb Ward Councillors didn’t respond to the consultation)

A report points out the proposed population of the planning area at 23,440 is 4 x the optimum size of 5500 suggested by central; government legislation.

A council official claims that a parallel proposal to create a “Neighbourhood Forum” could be approved although the report fails to analyse claims that the governance structure of the proposed body is bogus.  The forum was criticised by consultees as introducing unnecessary additional bureaucracy at least in the Westfield area where several residents groups already operate.

The report author concludes that a Neighbourhood Plan, including a revised “forum”, could be approved for the Acomb ward only.

We believe that the plan to exclude the Westfield area is correct.

However the proposal to jump to an “Acomb Ward only” model is premature. Such a move would rule out drawing up a neighbourhood plan for the Front Street area. Part of this district includes the Acomb Ward side of York Road which would be subject to a different plan under the new proposals.

Front Street in older times. This part of Westfield may require better protection.

No consideration has been given to including the area of land between the built-up area and the A1237 northern by pass) in any new arrangements, thereby failing to recognise the importance given by many residents in the area to the protection of open space.

The Council should simply reject the current ill-considered neighbourhood forum and plan proposals which are before it.

New proposals may then emerge which could be subject to re-consultation.

Another planning forum for Westfield – we think not

The York Council has started consultation on whether to recognise an “Acomb and Westfield Neighbourhood Forum”

A small group of residents, mainly living in the Front Street area, want to establish a “neighbourhood plan”. It would supplement the Councils own Local Plan which will be subject to a public hearing over the summer months.

Proposed neighbourhood plan area (Acomb and Westfield)

Unfortunately, the area they hope to cover includes the whole of the Acomb and Westfield wards (approximately 10,000 homes). It would stretch from Foxwood to Boroughbridge Road, encompassing a disparate group of neighbourhoods with little obvious community of interest.

If agreed, it would be by far the largest such plan in the York area. In the main those plans that have been approved cover smaller villages. All have a shared commonality of interests.

Westfield is not short of groups which seek to influence Council policy.

There are several Residents Associations, a “planning panel” (which scrutinises planning applications), a “ward team” and a “ward committee” together with several “action groups” which tend to focus on stimulating, or preventing, specific developments.

Adding an additional tier of representation, although only a consultative body, would involve additional costs and could lead to confusion about roles and responsibilities.

When it comes down to it, Foxwood has little in common with Chapelfields or the Gladstone Street area.

It has even less shared interest with Ouse Acres and vice versa. Arguably Foxwood has more in common with the Woodthorpe area.

In our view, this proposal represents an unwelcome diversion and could take resources away from the key task of raising public service standards in the area. Residents Associations are bested suited – and of the right scale – to identify changes that need to be made in local neighbourhoods.

They deserve more Council support.

In most built up sub-urban areas, there is little scope for redevelopment anyway with the focus being to retain existing open spaces. There is an opportunity for more public open space on land lying between the existing development and the A1237 bypass. The proposed Neighbourhood Plan boundaries exclude this land from consideration.

Ward Councillors are already aware of the need to move the extra public open space issue forward.

Front Street in older times. This part of Westfield may require better protection from developers in the light of the current problems at the Bowling Club building site.

There may be a case for a neighbourhood plan covering the Acomb village conservation area and its immediate environs.

The “forum” organisers would be wise to focus on a smaller area like this – where there may be a need for more clarity on its future – rather than try to “boil the, proverbial, ocean”.

In the meantime residents should email the Council to oppose this unnecessary proposal.

Minster changes take step forward

A refined set of plans which would see significant changes in the area around  York Minster have been published.

A copy of the prospectus can be downloaded from this link

The proposals are both ambitious and respectful tot eh heritage of both the Cathedral itself and the surrounding City.

They include a new “Queen Elisabeth Square” adjacent to the west end of the Minster. This is a welcome move towards the pedestrianisation of Duncombe Place. A vehicular access route – which will apparently still accommodate the Railway museums “Disney” train – has been retained.

The role of Deans Park as a quiet part of the City centre has been respected.

Likely to be more controversial – with the devil being in the detail – are plans for new buildings in the area where Constantine currently sits. The Roman will be rehoused further down Deangate, where he will be joined by a statute of Queen Elisabeth II

 A separate Deangate cycle track is planned ending the present shared space arrangement with pedestrians. Access only restrictions will be enforced ending the visits of parents to the entrance to the Minster School. They will have a separate drop off point at the end of Duncombe Place. The school itself will get enhanced facilities.

St Williams College will be brought back into use – not before time – and will accommodate Minster office staff. It is an old building, with an arcane layout, so good look to them with that.

The existing Church House administration offices will be converted into flats which will be rented out.

There are plans to develop the Deanery garages as residential accommodation for workers.

That may not suit everyone and there are some potentially awkward interfaces with the surrounding community. The new square, for example, doesn’t seem to make the best of the possible linkages to Stonegate.

But overall the proposals represent good progress and are being progressed in an inclusive way which reflects well on their authors.

Responses to the consultation can be made via this link The consultation closes on 16th June 2019.

A Neighbourhood Plan for Murton?

Murton Parish Council is next in-line to get its own Neighbourhood Plan, following new government rules which give local communities powers to create their own plans and policies.

As part of the Localism Act 2011, local communities are encouraged to come together to get more involved in planning for their areas by producing neighbourhood plans, which are designed to guide new development.