Unfortunately the current spell of wet weather is slowing progress on local building projects.
The five new bungalows being built by the York Council on Newbury Avenue are now several weeks late. The contract was supposed to be completed in early September.
The contract at the site has a value of £3/4 million.
The development was a controversial one because the Council declined to make adequate alternative off street parking space available for the former renters of the garages which used to occupy the site.
The development was delayed last year following a mix up over the relocation of a telecoms cabinet.
Residents are hoping that some solutions, to the problems caused by widespread building works in the Westfield area, will emerge from last nights public meeting.
There are acute congestion, parking and noise problems at and near sevral sites.
Most of the promised new parking bays in the Westfield area have now been completed. These are funded from a combination of the Westfield ward delegated budget and the Housing Estate Improvement Programme.
An additional 5 off street lay-by spaces are due to be provided in Tudor Road shortly. These will be funded as part of the Lowfields redevelopment project.
Building contractors have moved onto the Newbury Avenue building site before a promised parking bay has been brought into use. The contract is worth £730,000 and will see 5 bungalows built on the site.
The Council had originally insisted that the 4 space bay be provided before work started on demolishing the garages. They later hurriedly changed the condition to say the bays must be provided before construction work started.
The intention was that the bays would provide some relief for local residents forced to park “on street” when 20 or so vehicles are displaced from the garages.
That hasn’t happened and work has only just started on the bays.
Official’s had blamed a slow response from a utility company that had been asked to move one of its boxes.
Sadly the other parking bays promised for the beleaguered estate have also not been provided.
Local Councillors had allocated funding from their delegated estate improvement and ward committee budgets. They surveyed residents opinions on suitable sites a couple of months ago and received the thumbs up for locations near Beverley Court and Kempton Close.
But no feedback on the plans has subsequently been given to residents.
With only 6 weeks until the end of the financial year, there is now doubt whether the Windsor Garth and Danesfort Avenue spaces will actually be provided.
The Council have appointed Transcore Ltd to build the 5 new bungalows scheduled to be constructed on the site of the Newbury Avenue garages.
The value of the contract is £731,505.90. It is understood that separate contracts are being awarded for other work such as the demolition of the existing garages.
The works are currently held up following an administrative mistake which meant that movement of telecoms equipment, which needed to be moved before alternative parking provision could be made, wasn’t ordered soon enough.
The Council contract for the bungalows gives a target completion date of 3rd September 2019.
We understand that when demolition contractors removed the garage doors at Newbury Avenue they found a stolen car in one unit.
Separately, the Council have been served with a Freedom of Information request which seeks to explore why some Council garages have been left unused despite there being a waiting list of potential renters.
Demolition contractors (who suspended their activities yesterday following complaints that the work was unauthorised) will be able to demolish the Newbury Avenue garage blocks when the current public consultation period ends.
Officials claimed that this will be before Christmas
The planning committee was asked enforce the condition that four additional parking spaces be provided before the garages are demolished. This had been the wish of the planning committee when it met in May.
It was pointed out that some of the heaviest plant and lorries would be accessing the site during any demolition works, making additional off street parking options, on the narrow roads, even more essential.
The Council had been criticised for refusing to let several of the empty garages over the last 6-year period despite there being a waiting list of potential renters.
They moved quickly in the summer to end the remaining tenancies and secure the garage area.
A telecoms junction box must be moved before the car parking spaces can be provided. The junction box had been provided after the plans for new bungalows were published but before the committee took its decision in May. Councillors and officials were aware then of the existence on location of the equipment
Yesterday officials were unable to explain why they had not acted more quickly to get the telecoms equipment moved
NB. Work on providing additional parking lay-bys on Windsor Garth – which was authorised over a year ago – is also still outstanding. The Council has failed to provide a completion date despite many deadlines having come and gone. The lay-bys are being funded under the Westfield ward delegated budget.
Newbury Avenue garage demolition starts before committee has opportunity to consider an application to change a planning restriction.
Two days before the Councils planning committee was due to consider whether a planning condition on the Newbury Avenue garage site should be changed, to allow for early demolition of the blocks, contractors have gone ahead and started the work anyway.
As previously reported, the Planning committee imposed a condition when granting planning permission for the erection of 5 bungalows on the site in May. The condition required alternative parking spaces to be constructed before demolition works commenced.
The provision of the parking spaces required a telecoms cabinet to be moved, but it appears that officials failed to issue the order for this work to be done. It takes about 8 weeks to complete.
It appears that they have compounded the error be letting, and now implementing, the demolition contract.
Plant is on site today and garage doors have already been removed.
Local Councillor Andrew Waller is taking up the issue and the unlawful action is likely to be raised when the planning application is debated at Thursday’s meeting.
Even then officials will not be able to authorise the work until the statutory period for resident objections expires on 20th December.
The demolition will come as a major embarrassment to those involved in the planning system in York. They have already been criticised for allowing changes to developments like Spark in Piccadilly without the proper planning permissions.
However, a flagrant breech of a planning condition by one of the Council’s own departments sets a new low.
The Council has been heavily criticised for ignoring planning concerns at Lowfields on a similar site where it is the land owner, developer and planning authority.
At Newbury Avenue the York Council seems to have decided to ignore the planning laws altogether
Concerns ignored in committee report as play, congestion and parking fears rise
Kingsway area residents have expressed concerns that their views have been ignored in reports being presented to a planning committee meeting on Thursday. The reports consider plans for new developments in the area on Council owned land.
The lack of alternative car parking provision was a major issue in the Newbury Avenue area when planning permission to demolish 28 garages was granted last May. The planning committee specifically required that 4 alternative spaces be constructed before demolition works started. This would have involved moving a telecoms cabinet which would have taken about 8 weeks to complete. 24 weeks later it turns out that the Council have only just asked the telecoms companies to act. Rather disingenuously the Council states that, as the garages are now all empty, demolishing them will not add to the parking problems in the area. They don’t admit that, despite a long waiting list of people wanting to rent them, the Council stopped new lettings in 2012. It was this action that has contributed to the parking problems which are already apparent in the area.
Hob Moor School playing field
It has been known for some time that the Council intended to expand by building on the school playing field which lies to the rear of Windsor House and Lincoln Court. It came as something of surprise to many residents that this included the demolition of the Multi User Games Area (MUGA) Early in the consultation process the Council said that any sports or play facilities that were affected would be provided elsewhere on the site.
This is now under question.
The proposal at Hob Moor school is for “a playing pitch on presently unused land to the east of the school together with an area of informal “Forest School” activities including a wetland, timber walkway and a fabric covered outdoor teaching space”.
The new location, “ comprises an area of unimproved grassland which partially includes an area of derelict ridge and furrow of good quality which represents a survivor of a once more elaborate area surrounding the outskirts of the City and dating back to the Medieval period”.
There is no mention of either an all-weather kick about area or any other play facility being re-provided.
The redevelopment of this site mentions the need for” a Community Use Agreement” for the new school playing field.
It is unclear with whom the agreement would be, for what hours and via with what access route?
The report on the Windsor House site dismiss the concerns raised in a petition collected by local residents. Officials accept that the local highway network is sub-standard (too narrow to meet modern standards). They claim only about 18 car trips a day would be generated by the 42 members of staff who will work at the new Children’s Centre. They claim 13 parking spaces will be adequate.
The officials conveniently forget that parking problems in the area have already been exacerbated by other building works including the 66 additional homes at Hob Stones.
Changing lifestyles mean that many more delivery vans also now visit the area.
At the very least the Council should ensure that there is a service road provided, from the parking area at the Hob Moor school, to the rear access to the centre. This might reduce the traffic impact on Kingsway West while providing an access for mini buses carrying disabled children and for deliveries.
The proposal would see an additional 10 “extra care” bedrooms provided on the site. There are currently 22 apartments located on there. These are
being modernised with work having started recently on providing new double glazing. These will generate additional traffic and parking demands.
The report makes the outrageous claim that the MUGA is “disused”; something that officials apparently told the Sports Council in a bid to get them to withdraw their objection to the closure plan.
In fact, the Council suspended routine maintenance on the facility while discussions took place and later secured the entrance to prevent use. Funding had been made to provide “off the streets” activities there last summer but this was never implemented.
The MUGA has now been renovated and is once again usable with surrounding vegetation cleared back
It seems that west York faces a further loss of green fields and play facilities.
Inadequate parking provision will blight the area while congestion levels will increase
The neighbourhood deserves better.