Castle car park future

A Council meeting next week (14th June) will receive an update on plans to replace the Castle car park with an events space.

Contrary to expectations, most of the area would continue to be hard-surfaced. There is provision for a Pagoda style shelter. The useable space is rather less than can be found on the other side of the road in Tower Gardens.

More extensive changes are planned for the Eye of York – which would effectively become become “the rectangle of York” with space being made available for outdoor museum exhibitions.

The report recommends that “the new public realm at the Castle and Eye of York forms part of the
council’s funding bid to central government’s Levelling Up Fund, applications for which close on 18 June 2021″.

The new apartments being built at Castle Mills can’t be occupied before the Castle car park is closed according to a (frankly perverse) planning condition. The Castle car park can’t close until replacement parking has been provided. The Planning Committee has so far refused to approve the provision of a replacement car park.

We expect central government to start reducing its capital spending and borrowing shortly. We doubt whether “nice to have” schemes will get priority over essential infrastructure investment..

No updated business plan is being presented to the meeting next week.

NB. The Council has made no progress on the £5.9 million scheme to redevelop the site currently occupied by “Spark”. They are under pressure to sell the site and use the receipt to avoid unnecessary borrowing which otherwise would be necessary to fund the Castle Mills/car park part of the project.

The Council says that refined drawings may be presented to the meeting next week

York Council announces public consultation arrangements for the Castle Gateway project


A consultation to shape a masterplan and vision for the Castle Gateway area of York has been launched.

In response to resident feedback on previous public consultations, City of York Council has teamed up with a local group called My Future York to develop a new form of public engagement.

The ‘My Castle Gateway’ consultation will be supported with events, talks and walks and residents will be able to contribute to the debate via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Residents can sign up now for the first in a series of guided walks around the area on July 22.

The open conversation will promote new ideas and explore the current high-level vision which proposes a major development of that area that includes Piccadilly, the Coppergate Shopping Centre, The Eye of York, St George’s Field and the Foss Basin. Initial ideas include the closure of Castle Car Park to create new public spaces, buildings, riverside walkways and a pedestrian/cycle bridge.

In collaboration with the council, My Future York through Helen Graham (University of Leeds) and Phil Bixby (local architect specialising in public engagement) are offering their time to deliver the ‘My Castle Gateway’ project. 

My Future York have developed a ‘three step approach’ to public engagement, which aims to develop a preferred masterplan option for the Castle Gateway by the end of the year.

  • Step 1: Creative community-led events to establish what is important about the area.
  • Step 2: Community-led ‘action inquiries’ to resolve any disagreements or uncertainty about the area’s use.
  • Step 3: Community action throughout the decision-making, delivery and handover phases of the project.

Residents can sign up now for the ‘Opening Up Castle Gateway’ walks on 22 July via

They can also join the conversation on:

twitter @MyCastlGateway

instagram @mycastlegateway

Just occasionally a Council goes completely mad

If anyone had suggested over a pint in a public bar that a dozen used sea containers should be allowed to park on a sensitive City centre site in York, for three years, they would have been laughed at.

But in essence the Council’s Executive committee will consider doing just that on the vacant Reynard’s garage site when they meet next week.

Reynards Garage site

Reynards Garage site

A proposal from a group called “Spark” would see affordable space created for “local start-up businesses, social enterprises, community groups and charities for over 20 businesses in 14 fully fitted out shipping containers. The completed scheme would offer street food kiosks, retail, shared workspaces, meeting room, a performance area and public workspace. Although constructed from shipping containers they can be clad and finished in a variety of finishes to fit the locality and create a high quality aesthetic finish”.

A Council official writes that the plan would  ” improve the quality of the area and by driving footfall, contribute to uplift in land values”

Sea containers to be parked on Piccadilly?

Sea containers to be parked on Piccadilly?

The use of low quality temporary buildings with transient users has, of course, had just the reverse effect on land values elsewhere.

It is an extension of the post war bomb site “used car dealer” syndrome.

The containers are expected to be available to rent for £300 a week. Many are expected to be street food outlets and will compete with the mobile vans and stalls which already existed in the Shambles market area.

The Council is expected to spend £40,000 connecting utility services to the site. It says it expects to recover this from rent income although how much “Sparks” would actually pay is unclear.

And critically the location is within sight of some of the most important historical buildings in the City. These include the Merchant Adventurers Hall and the Castle complex.

The Council has had plenty of time to come up with with a constructive, low risk, option for the use of this site.

In the run  up to Christmas it should be used to supplement the overcrowded Castle car park.

After that there are many unobtrusive  leisure and commercial uses that could be considered if the Council really can’t get its “Southern Gateway” major redevelopment project into gear.jumbo-big-square-hay-bale-foreground-dimensions

We have said for some time that the Council has over-extended itself. It has too many major projects on the go at the same time.

Quality is suffering and short term expedients become straws to be grabbed at.

In this case a whole bale of hay is about to fall on the Council leaderships head.