Spark set to get government lifeline?

Containers arrived in Sept 2017

The controversial Sparks container village development on Piccadilly looks set to benefit from a government planning decision.

The temporary planning permission for the site – granted 3 years ago- included the following condition

This (approved) use (of the site) shall cease and all associated structures shall be removed from the site by 1 July 2020; unless prior to that date the consent of the Local Planning Authority has been obtained to extend the period of the permission

The containers should, therefore, by today have been off the site.

Officials at the Council have – not for the first time – failed to enforce the conditions attached to the planning permission.

They say that on 22nd June, the government issued a press release that stated

Sites with consent that have an expiry date between the start of lockdown and the end of this year will now see their consent extended to 1 April 2021”.

Officials go on to say, “At the time of writing (the planning report) the associated legislation regarding this is not yet in force (and consequently we do not know the details of this change). It is assumed this legislation will extend the lifetime of the existing permission into next year”.

Council planning officials go on to say,

However should this legislation not be in force by the time of committee, the recommendation will be approval subject to the legislation coming into force to automatically extend permissions that have expired during lockdown

The meeting is taking place (remotely) on 9th July. Background papers can be viewed by clicking this link

There are continuing concerns from neighbours about noise at the site while objections about the appearance of the  development also continue to be lodged.

Whether the managers of the site will be able to satisfy the conditions placed on an extended lease – which include financial sureties – remains to be seen.

Much of Sparks incomes derives from alcohol sales. The hospitality sector in York, and elsewhere, is facing a difficult 12 months.

Some sources speculate that as many as 40% of city centre cafes and bars may close unless there is an sustained (and unlikely) increase in visitor numbers.

We may, therefore, yet see the site become available for early redevelopment although major investments are going to be difficult to broker in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and the expected economic recession.

NB. The meeting is also being recommended to approve plans for a 168 bedroomed hotel on the other side of Piccadilly. Click

More problems at Lowfield building site

Residents have complained bitterly on the “Save Lowfields Playing Field” Facebook page as contractors Wates step up their activities. The main complaints concern noise and dust although the parking of plant on public highways has also been an issue.

Promised repairs to verges have not been completed.

Council has written to local residents

It appears that more disruption is in prospect as a two week closure of the Tudor Road entrance to the site is due to start on Saturday 13th June. Apparently a full closure of Tudor Road will be in place for two weeks during which time a sewer will be diverted from the school site.

Tudor Road will be closed for at least two weeks in June

From Monday 29th June for one week there will be a partial road closure with one lane closed and the road controlled by traffic lights. The closure will affect access particularly to 100-108 Tudor Road. The bus service will be diverted although First York haven’t yet confirmed their diverted route.

During this period heavy plant and deliveries will revert to using the Dijon Avenue access to the site.

The Council has let down the people of Lowfield very badly on this project. They should not be building on playing fields. Any development of the former built footprint of the school, should have been scheduled for completion over a maximum of 24 months.

 Now timescales are stretching out with no progress being made on the health centre, “police station”, elderly persons accommodation, self-build, communal living plots or even in providing the promised additional off street parking spaces for Dijon Avenue residents. .

Dijon Avenue site access will be used during Tudor Road sewer works

Progress is being made on providing football pitches and a luxurious clubhouse near Sim Balk Lane – mainly funded by contributions from the Lowfields development.

There seems to be no prospect of the open space and playgrounds being provided at Lowfields unless and until the whole of the development is completed.

Verge damage has not been repaired

That could be 5 years or more away.

The health crisis will affect the housing market in ways that can only be guessed at. It seems possible that the Council may end up being unable to sell the bulk of the 140 homes that it is currently building. Their decision to set up an “in house” sales team already looks suspect (and expensive)

Altogether an ill judged, poorly managed project which reflects no credit on the City of York Council

Lowfields misery continues

The Lowfield Action Group Facebook page makes it clear that residents have major concerns about the current development works in the area.

There are continuing complaints about noise, dust and working hours extending beyond those approved in the planning permission.

Communications from the Council have been minimal although another exhibition is promised prior to the main contractor starting on site. The current contractor is only undertaking clearance and layout works.

One piece of good news is that work on providing an additional 3 parking spaces on Tudor Road is due to start next week.

The Council latest planning application, which should have been determined by the end of April, it is still outstanding.

There is still no sign of a planning application for the Care Home much less the health centre and “police station”, not that they were ever likely to materialise anyway.

“Yorspace” are apparently still trying to raise funds for their “communal living” scheme while the Councils decision to sell them land at a discounted rate may yet prove to have been illegal.

Hopefully the new Council will be able to find someone competent and sensitive to local residents views when they decide who will lead on housing and planning matters for the next 4 years.

Certainly communication and supervisory systems need major improvements.

Foxwood woman fined for dog offence

Two women sentenced following noise complaints against dogs

Two dog owners in York were ordered to pay a total of £2421.74 by York Magistrates on 7 May after failing to comply with the conditions of a noise abatement notice.

Lesley Smith (aged 62 of Hinton Avenue, Foxwood, York) received multiple complaints from neighbours in 2016 following continuous disturbances from her four dogs in the early hours of the morning.

Ms Smith’s dogs were also left outside for up to two hours on an evening, causing further noise disturbance to the neighbours despite numerous warnings, an abatement notice and a caution being issued.

City of York Council Neighbourhood Enforcement Officers carried out surveillance of a property belonging to Samantha Flower (aged 42 of Lincoln Street, Leeman Road, York), after they received multiple complaints from neighbours in 2017.

Council officers employed noise monitoring equipment and noted over 15 barks in one minute after 11pm during a visit to Miss Flower’s property in February 2019.

Appearing at York Magistrates on 7 May, Miss Flower pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the conditions of a noise abatement notice and was fined £120, ordered to pay costs of £100 as well as a surcharge of £30.

Ms Smith pleaded guilty by post to failing to comply with the conditions of a noise abatement notice and was fined £450, ordered to pay costs of £1676.94 as well as a surcharge of £45.

Noise complaints about Acorn Rugby ground event

We understand hat several residents complained about noise coming from an event taking pace at the Acorn Rugby ground yesterday (Sunday evening). The source of the complaint seems to have been bands playing outdoors. They stopped at 9:00pm.

We understand that this was a charity event although it is unclear whether it formed part of the councils summer holidays “Shine” programme as stated on publicity posters.

It is the second time that complaints about events at the rugby ground have been made. The organisers of another charity event, held in August, had resorted to sellotaping posters to the outside of local noticeboards, causing damage in one case. (information is posted within the noticeboards upon request)

Fly posting is often a source of complaint when fairs visit Thanet Road (as they will shortly).

New licensing arrangements, introduced a few years ago, mean that organisations no longer have to apply for special licences to organise events like these. Instead they rely on a  general license issued on request by the Council to land owners. (in this case the land is owned by the Council but it is on a long lease to the club).

Licences can be revoked if terms and conditions are not observed.

In this case, the frequency of outdoor events may be approaching the point where the license could be reviewed.


Former owner of noisy bar in York gets six month’s conditional discharge for second breach

A city centre bar has been sentenced to six month’s conditional discharge and ordered to pay a total £1,179.43 for breaching a noise abatement notice a second time.

Today’s prosecution (27 March 2018), follows one last year on15 February 2017 when the former owner of Macumba Bar of Coffee Yard, York was ordered to pay a total £1,434 York Magistrates Court following a breach of the noise abatement order.

Following the case last year, the council received further complaints about loud music from the bar in April 2017. A warning letter made the bar’s management aware of the complaints and reminded them that the noise abatement notice originally served on 30 June 2016 was still in force. That notice had been served on Hayati Kucukkoylu (aged 50 of Boltby Road, York), then the licence holder, designated premises supervisor and director of the company. The notice immediately prohibited the playing of music at a level deemed to be a statutory nuisance.

Then on 9 and 10 September 2017, four more complaints about loud music at Macumba were received by the council. Officers on the council’s noise patrol service visited the complainants between 1-1.30am on 10 September. They heard music being played at a level loud enough to keep nearby residents awake and which was in clear breach of the noise abatement notice.

The mitigation put forward by Mr Kucukkoylu was that he is no longer involved in the business.

Howling dogs’ owners fined £1,000

A couple of dog owners who pleaded guilty for the noise nuisance their dogs created, were yesterday (12 April) given fines totaling £1,039 by York Magistrates Court.

A couple of dog owners who pleaded guilty for the noise nuisance their dogs created, were yesterday (12 April) given fines totaling £1,039 by York Magistrates Court.

Wilfred Weston and Audrey Weston both of Burton Green, York were each issued with a noise abatement notice in 2012 because of their dogs’ howling and barking at their address.

Both Mr and Mrs Weston were each ordered to pay a £138.00 fine, £30 court surcharge and £351.85 costs each.

York students not so noisy!

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

There were fewer complaints about noise nuisance in York last year than in previous years.

A freedom of information request has revealed that the York Council received 1584 noise complaints in 2014/15.

This was down from the 1614 received in the previous year.

The Council was unable to say how many complaints had concerned properties occupied by students but, of the 47 noise abatement notices served, none were for properties occupied by students.

 In 2012/13 the figure had been 10.

Extra noise patrols in York in run up to Bonfire Night

Bonfire night can be fun for all, but if it creates nuisance to neighbours, the council can take enforcement action. That’s the message from City of York Council this autumn.

Midsummer bonfire against a night sky, moon

The council is reminding residents that garden waste can be disposed of by composting, recycling or through the green bin rather than heaping it on a bonfire – especially if it’s damp. Gardeners can use a topical check list of bonfire night do’s and don’ts relevant at any time of year:

• It’s best to burn materials when they are dry

• Household rubbish, rubber tyres or anything containing plastic foam or paint should never be burned and should be disposed of at York’s household waste recycling centres

• Never use engine oil, meths or petrol to light the fire

• Try and light fires when light wind will carry smoke away from your neighbours

Thanks to funding from the Safer York Partnership, the council will be running extra noise patrols to help tackle the problems of excessive bonfire smoke and noise in the days surrounding the event.

The council has put together a helpful list of do’s and don’ts for bonfire night events, but it will also be happy to offer practical advice to those holding their own fireworks events, if require d.

We will be running extra patrols on 5 November to help tackle any potential problems. Residents can call the council’s environmental protection unit (EPU) on 01904 551555.

Extra noise patrols will run on:

Thursday 31 October, 10pm-1am

Friday 1 November, 9pm-3am

Saturday 2 November, 9pm-3am

Sunday 3 November, 6-11pm

Thursday 5 November, 10pm-1am

Residents can contact the EPU on:

There is more information on bonfires at:

Labour Council targets “noisy” students

Ahead of the autumn festivals and to help students settle into the new academic year, City of York Council has said that it will be running additional ‘noise patrols’ this autumn and issuing waste disposal reminders.

Noisy students

The council’s environmental protection unit will be carrying out extra noise patrols at the start of the new academic year, and around Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night at the end of October and early November.

As part of their welcome to the city (!) – which includes advice on waste disposal – noise patrol officers called out to investigate reports of noise will be helping establish acceptable noise levels.

These patrols will run during Fresher’s Weeks: 16-19 September for York St John University and 29 September-3 October for the University of York, plus on Sunday 6 October. On each night the Noise Patrol will operate from 10pm to 1am in addition to its regular hours of 9pm to 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.

The noise patrols will also operate over these same hours on Halloween on 31 October and on Bonfire Night on 5 November.