Lowfields – new homes not ready for occupation until next year

This Lowfields site will include 140 mixed tenure homes of which 56 will be affordable homes. The contractor has been on site since December 2019 and the Council says that it is “progressing well” with significant progress on “infrastructure work along with substructures”.

However the first 34 homes are now not due to be completed until early in 2021.

The Council decided to develop the site itself at a meeting held in July 2018

It later formed a company called Shape homes and said it would recruit staff to work with it. The latest financial report suggest that this had not progressed by the end of the financial year with over £1.2 million of the available budget slipping into the current year.

The Council also failed to invest £1.9 million of the budget that it set aside for the repair and modernisation of existing homes.

Football pitches

Meanwhile the football pitch project on Sim Balk Lane has stalled. The pitches were nominally supposed to replace those lost at Lowfields as a result of development, albeit they are 3 miles away. The land near London Bridge became waterlogged over the winter and is only now beginning to grass over.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is New-football-pitches-Sim-Balk-Lane-4-4th-Aug-2019-858x1024.jpg

The biggest problem though is the expensive “pavilion” which incorporates changing rooms.

A report to a meeting being held today says, “The construction of the pavilion / changing rooms has been put on hold due to the Covid-19 restrictions and it is not known when the work will be able to restart. The final procurement for the access road has also been put on hold”.

We wish that project well, but would have preferred to see some of the £850,000 cost (to taxpayers) invested in outdoor sports/leisure facilities in the Westfield area.

Huge £1.8 million overspend by Council on James House project

The conversion of James House from offices to 57 self-contained apartments for temporary homeless accommodation was completed on 14th April 2020, fifteen months behind schedule.

The Council says, “For homeless households the self-contained apartments will offer safe, secure and comfortable accommodation before permanent housing can be found for them. James House was open to residents in June 2020”.

The Council now admits that, as well as being 15 months behind schedule, the final costs are currently £1.782m above the agreed budget of £12.4m.

The council says that they have appointed independent experts to review the programming, delay, and quantity surveying aspects of the project.

Wet weather hampering local building projects

Unfortunately the current spell of wet weather is slowing progress on local building projects.

Proposed new football pitches near Sim Balk Lane are a little damp at preesnt
Work on the new disabled centre on Ascot Way is progressing
No sign of progress at Lowfields. Residents had been promised a revised development timetable following delays with the care home contract, Yorspce etc but none has been forthcoming
There are still hopes that the bungalows on Newbury Avenue will be completed before the end of the year. They are currently three months behind schedule.

Council taxpayers to foot £605,000 bill for sports pavilion

The Council have now appointed a contractor to build a “Pavilion, Clubhouse and Changing Rooms” on Tadcaster Road near Sim Balk Lane.

It will become the home of a football team currently based in Bishopthorpe.

The contract was won by Fullwood of Pontefract

The cost is an eye watering £605,000.

In total the project is expected to cost £1.5 million. £491,000 has already been spent on new pitches.

Taxpayers money

This compared to the costs of new modular changing rooms which are available from less than £40,000 from a number of companies.

These include Sports Changing Rooms and York’s own Portakabin

The cost of the pavilion is controversial because it is being partly funded from monies generated by building on playing fields at Lowfield.

More modest changing facilities would have allowed the surplus to be used to provide an all-weather games area to replace both the facilities lost at Lowfields and also the Kingsway West children’s games area which the Council demolished earlier in the summer.

The Council has still not made any public announcement about the replacement games area which could be located on Thanet Road.

More questions posed on cost of football pitch project

The site of new football pitches off Sim Balk Lane has been cleared. The will be used by a team from Bishopthorpe.

The cost of constructing a new “pavilion” at the football pitches near London Bridge has been questioned. It is claimed that the cost of providing 13 pitches plus changing rooms near London Bridge will be £1.5 million.

This compares to the £600,000 cost of providing of a modern changing room & clubhouse recently for the Hamilton Panthers team on Little Knavesmire.

The York Council has been asked to contribute £850,000 to the Bishopthorpe scheme with the rest coming mainly from the Football Foundation and fundraising.

Most of the £850,000 is being abstracted from the Westfield Ward.

Officials claim it is a substitute for the pitches lost at Lowfield which are now being built on.

NB. There has still been no progress on replacing the children’s all weather sports area which was a valued amenity in the Kingsway West area. The Council took the games area over as a building compound over 3 months ago, promising that alternative facilities would be provided.

The promised replacement isn’t event mentioned in the Council’s 4 monthly forward programme of upcoming decisions