Busy week for the York planning committee

Big planning decisions in York

York Central

York Central

The largest proposal concerns the land to the rear of the railway station. Known as “York Central” redevelopment of the area has been on the cards for nearly two decades. It has finally reached the planning application stage. The report recommends that the plans be forwarded to the Secretary of State for endorsement. The plans have attracted some opposition, but the economic and social welfare of the City depends on making some progress on the site now. Hopefully some of the ill judged ideas such as having only one-way traffic through the Marble Arch tunnel can be changed at a later stage.

Lowfields

‘dozer wrecks playing field

There is already a lot of local disquiet about the way that the Council are implementing their plans for this area. Many of the comments on the “Save Lowfields Playing Field” Facebook page are from disgruntled local residents who, even at this early stage, point to conflicts between lorries and parked cars, muddy roads and the ripping out of trees and hedges.

They are asking that the new parking spaces promised for Tudor Road be constructed before the existing parking lay-by is lost as an access road is constructed.

Yorspace proposed development plan, Lowfields

Further along the road, the Yorspace” application has been heavily criticised by local residents. The main concerns related to the lack of affordable units proposed on the site, the impact on the natural environment including inappropriate boundary treatments, security concerns relating to the adjacent public snicket access to little Tudor Road, the proposal to remove the railings which protect adjacent properties,  inadequate car parking provision  and the impact that overspill parking by residents, families and visitors could have on neighbouring streets and the height of the buildings.

Council officials have revealed that they have approved 5 outstanding conditions, for activities on the building site, despite several objections.

Lincoln Court

Lincoln Court.

The Council has made an embarrassing series of mistakes on the proposal to extend this independent living building. Even now they have published papers which imply (wrongly) that the new apartments  will be classified as “Extra Care” units. It has had plenty of time to clarify that issue.

There is some hope now that the future of the adjacent games area will be secured. Local Councillors are understood to have taken the initiative to discuss moving the facility to the local rugby club ground. If so, that would be a good solution to a problem which has also raised concerns from Sport England, and the resident’s association.

Other applications

All applications are recommended for approval

Hedges ripped out near Lincoln Court

Hedges are being ripped out by contractors in preparation for the start of building works at Windsor House and Lincoln Court.

The new disabled centre, which will replace Windsor House, does have planning permission. It is understandable that developers Sewells will want to remove the hedges before the bird nesting season starts.

Work to the rear of Lincoln Court is more controversial. A planning permission granted in December was found to be flawed. This forced the Council, to submit a new application which has yet to be determined. It has attracted a lot of objections including a significant one from Sport England.

It is therefore premature to undertake work in that area.

Copies of the Lincoln Court planning application together with details of objections can be found by clicking here 

Contractors removing hedge from school playing field boundary

Hedge to side of Windsor House has already been removed

Spark appeals against planning decision

Spark April 2018

It seems that the Spark organisation has submitted a last-minute appeal against the Council’s decision not to allow them to keep the Street Art/Graffiti on their Piccadilly frontage. They had hoped that the Council would not enforce the planning condition which requires them to install wood cladding on the outside of the shipping containers.

In August they lost their planning application to revise the conditions governing their use of the site.

Any appeal could take months to resolve, so it may now be down to the Council, as the landlord, to act to remedy the defect. The Council will be expecting a major payment from the business over the next few weeks.

The Spark lease runs out in June 2020.

Some good news as Council acts on dangerous plant found at Lowfields

Japanese Knotweed

A planning application, which would see a patch of Japanese Giant Knotweed removed from the Lowfields playing field, has been submitted.

Specialists will remove the invasive plant from a section on the west of the site.

The reason it can cause a threat is because it grows so rapidly. Each plant can grow up to an inch a day and has the ability to mature rapidly across a large surface area.

As it grows so quickly it can actually cause a lot of structural damage. It can cause damage to tarmac and concrete, increase erosion, damage retaining walls, damage building foundations and block drainage pipes.

The planning application can be found by clicking here. It is work that would need to be undertaken even if redevelopment were not to take place.

Location of Hogweed on Lowfields site plan

More on Lowfield plans – public “drop in” tomorrow

The Council says that it will hold a public “drop in” at Acomb Explore Library between 4:30pm and 7:00pm tomorrow (Thursday 7th February) to react to criticisms of its plans to start work on the Lowfields school development later in the month.

The scheduled work involves felling trees and removing hard surfaces.

Some residents commenting on the “Save Lowfield Playing Field” Facebook page say that they have not received notification of the event. Others say that a limited hours, mid-week, event prevents shift workers from attending

The letters that the Council say that they have delivered are reproduced below.

The plan to schedule tree felling works during February is surprising as the planning condition covering this work has not yet been approved.

Residents have until the middle of the month to record their objections with the expectation that local Councillors will “call in” the proposal for consideration by a planning committee. Details of the planning conditions application can be found via this link.  

Objections should be sent by Email to planning.comments@york.gov.uk quoting ref AOD/19/00001

Residents have commented that there are a lot of questions to be answered about the site preparation work, which is scheduled to be completed by May.

These include

  • working hours,
  • noise,
  • access routes for heavy lorries and
  • contractor parking arrangements.

The Action Group says that it expects the findings of an Ombudsman’s enquiry into allegations, that the Council misled residents and Sport England over their plans, is due to be published this week.

The Action Group may also be giving evidence to the Local Plan public inquiry which is due to start shortly

Trees to be felled shown in red

Housing by type and tenure

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

Lowfields and commune housing

The Lowfields Playing Field Action Group have recorded an objection to plans to build 19 “communal living” homes on the Lowfields site. Although the Action Group states that it has no “in principle” objection to the development of this part of the site (they are mainly concerned about the loss of the nearby sports field and green open space) they have highlighted several issues.

One of these was a “behind closed doors” decision – only just published by the Council – to sell off 0.7 acres of land, to the “Yorspace” developers, for only £300,000. That would mean a plot cost of around £15,000 – far below the market value. A typical housing plot is that part of the City is currently fetching in excess of £50,000.

The decision was taken by a Council officer.

The papers to support he decision are very thin on detail. The Council can only legally sell at below market value if it can demonstrate that a lower priced sale “will facilitate the improvement of economic, environmental or social well-being of the area“.

Apparently the official was convinced that the shared ownership model being proposed would ensure that a continuing supply of low cost housing would result from the development.

But will it?

The papers don’t suggest that those who will occupy the homes, are required to be registered on the housing waiting list. There is no maximum income level mentioned for shareholders. There doesn’t seem to be any requirement for the investors to be York citizens or even UK residents.

As the homes turn over, it is unclear how investors in later years will be selected.

Housing subsidies are a controversial area. A more straight forward option would simply to have built more Council houses on the site (The Council’s housing debt ceiling has recently been lifted by the government).

But this is clearly an area where full transparency is needed. This would ensure that innovative house funding and ownership models are encouraged, while safeguarding the taxpayer’s interests. Sadly it appears that no York Councillor has had the wit or wisdom to press for all the facts to be made public.

The Action Group has also highlighted concerns about parking provision, security and nature conservation issues on the plans which can be viewed by clicking here

Lowfields Action Group planning objection Feb 2019

 

Front Street planning application turned down

The Council have turned down a planning application which would have seen a disused garage replaced with a small home on an alley off Front Street in Acomb.

The site was located behind 43A Front Street.

The application was criticised because of poor access arrangements.

The decision notice quotes conservation reasons for the refusal.

The report can be viewed by clicking here

Building plans near Moor Lane nature reserve

Askham Bog

Developers submit plans which could threaten the future of Askham Bog.

Developers are seeking “outline planning permission (with all matters reserved except for means of access) for up to 516 residential units (Class C3) with local centre (Use Classes A1-A4, B1a, C3, D1) public open space with pavilion and associated infrastructure and full application for demolition of existing buildings and structures and creation of ecological protection and enhancement zone”.

The location is on Moor Lane “OS Fields 5475 7267 And 8384 Moor Lane Acomb York” Click this   Reference for full details 18/02687/OUTM

The application went “live” on the Councils “planning on line” web site only yesterday. Objections have to be lodged by 9th January with a statutory expiry date of 30th January.

Some believe that the application has been timed to coincide with the busy festive season when resident’s attention is distracted.

The proposal is highly controversial.

Sir David Attenborough said during a visit to the site in 2016,

“If someone was proposing to put a building site next to York Minster there would be an outcry. This is a treasure that is irreplaceable.

“The citizens of York are lucky to have it on their doorstep and it is their responsibility to look after it.”

A Yorkshire Wildlife Trust spokesperson said the bog was a remarkable survivor of the ancient fenlands of Yorkshire, a ‘wonderful mosaic of fen, woodland and meadow,’ occupying the site of an ancient lake left behind by a retreating glacier 15,000 years ago.

The present Council specifically took the step of excluding the Moor Lane area from the development plans when it published its Local Plan. In 2 months time an independent inquiry will take place into the Plan.

It seems that the developers want to “bounce” a decision on the proposal before the formal Local Plan can be adopted.

They may be hoping that Labour will regain control of the York Council at the local elections which are taking place in May 2019. When Labour were last in power, they slated Moor Lane and other areas of Green Belt for development.

These decisions were revoked in 2015 by the new coalition administration.

Unfortunately the present Council is also guilty of pre-judging the Local Plan having succeeded recently in “bouncing” a plan to develop playing fields at Lowfields through the planning system. They did so before residents had the opportunity to voice their views at the public inquiry.

Opposition to the proposals is being coordinated by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Click this link to go to their website www.ywt.org.uk

Moor Lane development plans December 2018

Latest planning applications for the Westfield Ward

 Below are the latest planning applications received by the York Council for the Westfield ward.

Full details can be found by clicking the application reference

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Chicken Express Unit 3 Acomb Wood Shopping Centre Acomb Wood Drive York YO24 3XN

Change of use from former takeaway establishment (use class A5) to coffee shop and restaurant (use class A3)

Ref. No: 18/02633/FUL 

This property is located in the Dringhouses and Woodthorpe Ward. The unit will become an Italian restaurant. See licensing application (click)

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Representations can be made in favour of, or in objection to, any application via the Planning on line web site.  http://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/

The Council now no longer routinely consults neighbours by letter when an application is received