Huge York central development gets planning approval

A major development behind York railway station got the go ahead from the Planning Committee last night.

York Central site

It will provide hundreds of new homes and jobs over the next decade or so.

The site has been derelict, and mostly unused, for over 20 years. The progress made in bringing forward the site will probably be recorded by history as the major achievement of the current Council coalition administration.

The development is not without controversy.

The transport plans in particular lack the quality and imagination that many had hoped for. The developers will need to refine access arrangements from the City centre to Leeman Road particularly for pedestrians and cyclists.

Bus services must include a frequent park and ride link to off site parking spaces at Poppleton Bar.

Some courage will be needed if the site is to be declared an “ultra low emission zone”. Such a step would be an acknowledgement that the declaration of a “climate crisis” by the Council a few days ago was more than just rhetoric.

But overall the decision is a good one for the City, not least because it will reduce the pressure to build on green fields.

Hopefully we will see some development on site before the end of the year.

Lowfields residents update newsletter. Parking plan criticised as inadequate

The Lowfield Residents Group have criticised the Councils plan to provide only 2 alternative off street spaces to replace a parking lay-by on Tudor Road.  They are circulating a newsletter to affected residents (see below)

The existing 4 space lay-by will be lost when the Council, starts work on providing a new access road into the Lowfield site.

Part of the garden of an adjacent flat block (108 Tudor Road) is being used to provide 4 spaces but residents point out that Tudor Road, along with the adjacent Gale Lane, has on street parking restrictions.

This means that the Tudor Road bays are heavily used.  Occasionally drivers park on the garage forecourt opposite causing an obstruction.

More parking spaces are required.

At the other end of Tudor Road (low numbered) a communal housing experiment will see only 12 parking spaces provided for 19 properties. Some of the properties have 4 bedrooms. The occupants of similar properties elsewhere often have 2 or 3 cars.

All in all, we don’t think that the Council has got its transport and parking policies for the development right yet.

Ironically The Press is today running a story saying that life expectancy in the Westfield Ward is the lowest of any in the City.

We’ve pointed out to the Council that its relentless attack on open space and sports provision in the area is partly to blame.

Loss of the football pitch at Lowfields  is a major factor as is the threat to the bowling green on Front Street, the erosion of the Hob Moor playing field and the loss of the Kingsway all weather games area.

The playing field associated with Our Lady’s school has, of course, already been built on.

East Coast rail investment announcement doesn’t go far enough

The government have today announced funding for some improvement to the existing main line rail services in the region. The government claims that the work will see improvements to platforms, tracks, signals and junctions across the East Coast route. New Intercity Express trains will be provided and  the Government claims northern commuters will benefit from “more seats and faster, more frequent journeys between Doncaster, Leeds and Newcastle”.

Local Councillor Andrew Waller said, “A reliable and properly funded East Coast Main Line is pivotal to our region’s growth and any investment to the line is welcome.  However, the Government’s approach to tackle these problems in a piecemeal way is not a strategic approach to solving the current capacity problem.  This is only a small step in addressing the imbalance of investment, which is currently focussed on London and the South East of England.  (more…)

Road works to start at Crockey Hill. Delays expected in new year.

A scheme to reduce congestion to the south of the city moves a step closer next week as preparatory works begin on site.

The works – which will not interrupt traffic – have to happen before the main construction to widen the A19 junction with Wheldrake Lane, at Crockey Hill can take place in the new year.

The works include removing invasive weed species (such as Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed), ten trees and diverting a gas pipeline which runs close to the junction.

While the council has designed the junction improvements to minimise the amount of trees affected, it will provide a more diverse wildlife habit by planting 37 trees of different species in the new year.

An extra southbound lane will be built on approach to, and through the junction in a bid to ease rush-hour congestion heading south out of York, particularly at the A64 Fulford Interchange.

There will be no disruption to traffic during the preparatory works, and residents will be given plenty of notice before the mains construction works begin in mid-January 2018.

This scheme is funded from the DfT’s Local Pinch Point Fund. (more…)

Cutting edge traffic light tech gets the green light in York

Beacons on traffic lights will be ‘talking’ to cars in York as intelligent transport technology is used to reduce congestion in the city.

City of York Council has won £2.85m funding for its revolutionary Smarter Travel Evolution Programme (STEP) from the local road network strand of the government’s National Productivity Investment Fund.

STEP takes advantage of York’s unparalleled ultra fast fibre optic connectivity and the cutting edge transport research the government is already funding in the city.

Detectors located on traffic lights, bollards and other street furniture will track vehicle movements by anonymous signatures collected from people using mobile data services. This will then be processed using the most sophisticated real-time traffic data and analysis in the country. The system will also be able to talk to the new generation of connected and ‘driverless’ vehicles.

Starting in April 2018, tnational productivity fundhe two year life of STEP will transform the way the council manages the city’s roads, from changes to how traffic lights react to traffic flows through to designing junctions and road improvements.

This will also allow the council to better understand and model the potential impact of changes and demands on the network such as new homes and employment sites are created.

STEP will also provide ready-made technology to communicate with the connected and autonomous vehicles which are predicted to revolutionise transport with this data. (more…)

Air quality in York shows further improvement

A six-year trend in air pollution reduction means that two of York’s three Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) could be withdrawn in the next two years.

Falling concentrations of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is mainly from traffic, means that it is no longer having a health impact on people in those areas.

City of York Council’s annual air quality status report is being presented to the executive member for environment on 7 August for a decision-making session.

The report shows that the Salisbury Terrace AQMA has had nitrogen dioxide concentrations consistently below the level where it affects health for the last four years, so the AQMA for this area is recommended to be revoked.

The Fulford Road AQMA has been showing that, while average levels of pollutants are continuing to fall across the whole area, one location continues to show higher than permitted levels. Should another year of monitoring levels indicate a continued decline, that AQMA may be recommended to be reduced or revoked in 12 months time.

In the meantime, increased concentrations of NOmonitored on Coppergate could mean that, depending on monitoring data submitted early in 2018, the boundary of the city centre AQMA boundary may need to be amended. However changes in traffic restrictions and buses on this route may be responsible for the change in concentrations.

York’s Low Emission Strategy continues to deliver the air quality improvement measures in York’s third Air Quality Action Plan including:

  • 14% of York’s taxis have converted from diesel to ultra low emission electric hybrids since York’s unique taxi incentives and

    Electric buses have been introduced in York

  • new taxi licensing policy specifying minimum emission standards for new or replacement taxis
  • encouraging residents to walk, cycle and use public transport to beat congestion and pollution through the Local Transport Plan and i-Travel York
  • introducing electric buses on two Park&Ride routes with a third to be delivered via the new Park & Ride contract
  • retrofitting the world’s first electric double-decker sightseeing bus with plans to convert a further five diesel buses to full electric drive
  • City of York Council has been awarded £816,000 from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) after becoming the only Yorkshire location out of eight in the country to achieve ‘Go Ultra Low’ city status. The money will be used to fund a city-wide network of charging hubs
  • implementing a ‘pay as you go’ fast charge public electric vehicle recharging network in addition to 11 publicly accessible rapid chargers across the city. 1,500 charges – including those made by electric buses – are made each month and are rising on a monthly basis.
  • Low Emission Planning guidance requires electric vehicle recharge infrastructure, Construction Environmental Management Plans (CEMPs), and emissions mitigation plans on new building developments.

Idle-Free Zone, Turn Engine Off Sign

We are also currently considering the following air quality improvement measures:

  • reducing emissions from buses by developing a bespoke Clean Air Zone (CAZ).
  • introducing anti-idling measures via signage and a new anti-idling enforcement policy.

Cllr Andrew Waller, executive member for the environment, said: “While our sustained work on combating air pollution has made a significant contribution to improving air quality in York, it’s important to recognise that much still needs to be done.

“Air pollution is associated with a number of adverse health impacts – especially in children and older people – including contributing to the onset of heart disease and cancer and we will continue to work with partners to further improve the air we all breathe in the city.”

The full report can be read at http://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=870&MId=10031&Ver=4

Hyper electric vehicle charging points could be installed next year

Scarborough Bridge cycle/footpath redesign: consultation starts

To help provide better accessibility, connectivity & more capacity, the council is consulting with residents, commuters and visitors on the construction of a new shared use bridge over the River Ouse.

The idea of such a link was first floated over 10 years ago so any progress is likely to be welcomed in the City

The new bridge will replace the current crossing adjacent to Scarborough Bridge, providing a much wider and accessible facility. The current narrow crossing is used by over 2,600 pedestrians and 600 cyclists on average each day. This is despite it having steep steps and being inaccessible for people with mobility issues.

The new bridge will be suitable for pedestrians, cyclists, pushchairs, wheelchairs and those with mobility issues. It will include ramps, as well as stepped access so that a wider range of users are catered for. Furthermore, the new bridge will be accessible during flood events, which the current footbridge is not.

Executive member for transport and planning, Cllr Ian Gillies, said: “This is a great opportunity for York to improve a key  route linking several important sites across the city. I hope residents and visitors will be forthcoming with their views about the new bridge so that we can ensure that it is suitable for the many people that I am sure will be using it in the future.”

This new bridge will provide a traffic-free, scenic and direct link for residents, commuters and tourists, on foot or bike, between York station, the city centre and residential suburbs located on the opposite side of the river.

This will also improve the connectivity of the National Cycle Network (routes 65 and 658) as well as providing an improved traffic-free route to the York Central site to the west of the station.

People will be able to view the plans and discuss this proposal with the project manager at an exhibition in the York Train Station foyer from 1pm – 6pm on Wednesday 12 July, and 8am – 1pm on Thursday 13 July.

Have your say by sending your comments to scarboroughbridge@york.gov.uk or post to: Scarborough Bridge Consultation, City of York Council, Transport Projects, Eco Depot, Hazel Court, York YO10 3DS.

The council, in partnership with West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme and Network Rail are undertaking the consultation. All feedback will be carefully considered and included in a report to the executive member for transport and planning for a decision on how to proceed later in the summer.

For more information visit www.york.gov.uk/scarboroughbridge

Major traffic changes planned for Thanet Road near Lidl

The Council is expected, at a meeting taking place on 22nd June, to sign off major highways changes near the Lidl store on Thanet Road.

The plans involve imposing a 20 mph speed limit enforced by speed tables and humps. Currently for most of the day vehicle speeds are around this level anyway, although the Council has not provided any measurements.

The northern bus lay by (near the rugby club) will be removed altogether meaning that stopping buses will block the highway. This is a busy bus stop and carriageway waiting will artificially create additional congestion and pollution as well as limiting sight lines.

(The Council’s original plan had bizarrely been to reduce the carriageway to a single lane by creating a “pinch point”. Thankfully this potty idea has been abandoned).

The Council has been criticised in the way they have sought to reduce accident levels in this area.

The Council report says, “10 collisions were identified between the roundabout at Foxwood Lane and the junction with St James Place. Four of these collisions had comminality with children either stepping out or running into the road in front of a vehicle. Two of these collisions were located outside the Lidl supermarket, with the other two located at different positions along the route”.

Unfortunately no further analysis of the individual accidents has been provided although the implication is that excessive vehicle speed was the cause.

The most obvious remedy, when pedestrians are involved in accidents on a carriageway, is to ensure that they cross the road at the safest location. This can be achieved by fitting guard rails (and is certainly the obvious way to address any concerns about children running out from the store access path).

There already is a Toucan crossing at the Kingsway end of the road while a pedestrian refuge is available at the other end.

The Council failed to consult properly on their revised plans resorting to lamppost notifications which were highly unlikely to be read by anyone, and certainly not by drivers. Strangely the Council doesn’t advertise proposed traffic orders of this type on their own web site.

If the scheme goes ahead as planned – without safety railings – we fear that it will make things worse rather than better. Drivers will become frustrated and will try to overtake stationary buses and other vehicles at points where traffic currently runs freely for most of the day.

Time for a last minute rethink perhaps?

 

Improvements to reduce congestion on the A19 south at Crockey Hill

City of York Council is asking for comments on new proposals which could help reduce congestion on one of York’s busiest roads.

The scheme will reduce the average time taken to travel on the A19 South through the Fulford interchange junction and down the A19 to Crockey Hill by up to five minutes. The length of southbound queues will also be reduced by up to 50 per cent.

Over 20,000 vehicles use this route every day and at times over 1,200 vehicles use the junction every hour in one direction, which often causes queues and sections of the A19 to block.

As a result of so many vehicles using this road there are often large queues of traffic particularly southbound during busy times in the evening. This can cause what is known as a ‘pinch point’ or queues of traffic at the Crockey Hill traffic lights (junction of the A19 and Wheldrake Lane). This rapidly backs up to the A19/A64 Fulford Interchange which causes congestion on the A64 off slip-road and on the A19 in Fulford.

The scheme will help address this problem and supports phase 1 which was carried outover the summer of 2015. This helped to reduce congestion and improve public transport journey times and reliability northbound at the busy A19/A64 junction (near the Designer Outlet).

However, for southbound traffic going out of York, the problem of traffic queues in the evening remains.  Phase two will help to ease the build up of congestion along this busy section of road, reducing the risk of blocking the A19/A64 junction and improving public transport reliability and journey times.

Funded entirely from the Department for Transport (DfT) pinch point fund, the scheme is estimated to cost approximately £1million.


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