Imaginative design plan for York Central has flaws

Councillors will today be asked to approve design plans for the York Central site. The area behind the station has been ripe for redevelopment for nearly 2 decades now as the demands of the rail industry have reduced.

York central  is a large and hugely expensive site to develop but has the advantage of being close to intercity transport links and a City centre which boasts a full range of amenities.

The design guide springs from a comprehensive public consultation process which managed in the end to avoid the obvious dangers of raising unaffordable expectations.

The design guide rightly concentrates on the impact that a dense, and relatively tall, development will have on the rest of the City. It passes that test and goes on to tell a convincing story about street and layout potential. It may be a little short on iconic USPs although the idea of an old steam train running through the site will appeal to many.

But perhaps the approach does tend to be “all things to all men”.

It talks of a large increase in office space at a time when the City has full employment and some empty office units. A report implies that the York Council might underwrite some of the new floorspace space. But the Council is already doing so at the Community Stadium site while the £12 million white elephant business centre at the Guildhall had still to find tenants.

The main issue may prove to be access and transport.

Even footpath links between the Carlton St area and the City centre look – for most of the evening – to be longer than currently is possible. The one-way system to benefit cyclists through the Leeman Road tunnel has also (rightly) been vilified.

The development partners will have to find funding for a discrete pedestrian/cycle bridge over the railway line – a solution which might also address other permeability issues and might even provide an alternative route for the Railway Museums “Disney” train which currently obstructs general traffic routes in the City centre.

The design guide refers to parking space provision at “up to 1 space” per house (0.45 spaces per flat). This suggest that many cars will be parked “off-site”.  The Council will need to be clear whether this would be at a peripheral on-site location or at a sub-urban park and ride site (with its security implications).

The design guide fails to address other transport needs such as recharging/refuelling points for electric/hydrogen buses. Indeed, the guide is weak on public transport infrastructure requirements generally.

In the main though, the guide does address the main planning issues and is a welcome step forward for the project.

Whether the actual planning applications can be faithful to the concept, and remain affordable, may become clearer later in the year.

York central consultation leaflets dumped

Disappointing to see so many “York Central” consultation leaflets left in the foot-wells of flats in the Kingsway West area. Not a very effective way of spending taxpayers money.

Problems also with graffiti, broken glass, and detritus in the same area. All reported to the Council for attention.

Council bid for nearly £70m government housing fund moves a stage further

York Central

City of York Council has moved a step closer to securing nearly £70m government-funding to unlock up to 3,300 new homes in the city.

The Housing Secretary Sajid Javid today announced that both York’s bids to the Housing Infrastructure Fund, which would speed up major developments at York Central and a new garden village at Clifton Gate, have been approved to move to the final co-development stage of the competitive process.

The council has bid for £57m towards the complex infrastructure and access road which will open up the delivery of up to 2,500 homes on the York Central development. It would supplement the West Yorkshire Transport Fund money to deliver the bridge, spine road, and improvements in connectivity for vehicles, cycles and pedestrians.

At Clifton Gate, nearly £10m of funding would be used for vital access works and improvements, including an upgrade to Clifton Moor roundabout, new access roads tot he site, a subway for pedestrians and cyclists, and a pedestrian bridge. This would allow quicker delivery of the 1300 home site.

The Housing Infrastructure Fund is there to help deliver infrastructure projects which are essential to building significant numbers of new homes.  City of York Council will now work with the Ministry for Housing  Communities and Local Government and the developers on a detailed business case which will be assessed in the autumn before a final funding decision is made.
(more…)

York Central access road decision next week

Construction of the access road to unlock the potential of York Central – one of Europe’s largest brownfield sites – could start next year if senior councillors approve plans next week.

2015 plan

The council’s executive could give the green light to find a contractor to build the bridge and spine road into the site from Water End.

A new access road has long been established as crucial to opening up the 72 hectare York Central site, which can drive the city’s economy and create vital jobs, housing and quality public spaces.

The positioning of the road was decided following extensive public consultation by the York Central Partnership, which is delivering the regeneration of the site, last year.

The Council will take the lead on the design and construction of the access road before 2021, in order to take advantage of available funding from the West Yorkshire Transport Fund.

Councillor Andrew Waller, acting leader of City of York Council, said:
“Regenerating this site is vital to grow our economy and provide housing.

“Thanks to the efforts of the York Central Partnership, we are overcoming the barriers to take this once in a lifetime opportunity to unlock York Central’s potential as an exemplar sustainable development.

“I welcome the news that the partnership is improving the community engagement on the project. This will help to make sure York Central is a place in which we all want to live, work and spend time.”

The construction partner would deliver key infrastructure, including the access bridge and spine road, while the contract could potentially be extended to deliver public open space (parkland, urban drainage and public
realm) and the rail link to the national rail museum.

The York Central Partnership has announced a special consultation which will help to develop the masterplan, which will be considered by the council’s Executive in June. The ‘Festival of York Central’ will begin on Monday 19 March, and will go beyond conventional community consultation.  It will use social media, ‘Pechakucha’ conversation evenings, walk’n’workshop site tours, web and blog content and speaking events. There will also be opportunities to meet with the four partners, the consultant team behind the evolving masterplan and local councillors.

The executive will also be asked to:

  •  dispose of the freehold of the 5% of council land holding on York Central to Homes England at market value to simplify land ownership on the site and to use this capital receipt to fund the York Central project costs. This land includes the Fermatol trading estate off Leeman Rd and the private car park near to Carlisle St.
  •  to commit £907k further funding from the £10m allocated budget to take the project through to planning determination.

 

 

Something better for Holgate?

With the major parties now being well on their way to selecting candidates for the 15th February Holgate by election, local voters may well be asking “can we do better than the present lot?”

One test of a good local Councillor is how sensitive they are to local opinion and how proactive they are in leading and supporting local campaigns. In Holgate there have been several major issues over the last couple of years which prove a clue to the answer.

York central access route

The preferred access route of the York Central development was decided in 2007. The link would be from Water Lane and would have the advantage of providing a “by pass” for the Leeman Road area. It had the advantage of avoiding the busy Poppleton Road communities. In 2013, the local Councillor James Alexander brokered a deal which saw the council buy land for a route which passed close to Cleveland Street (Chancery Rise) .  This route was approved by the Labour Executive with two, of the Holgate Wards three Councillors, supporting it. It wasn’t until the Council leadership changed in 2015 that the plan was reviewed. Opposition to the Chancery Rise option was led almost entirely by residents. No Leadership was provided by Holgate councillors. The Chancery Rise option has now been dropped.

Severus nature reserve

More recently, a planning application to develop land between Lindsey Avenue and the Water Tower (Severus SRE) was submitted by Yorkshire Housing. The opposition to the proposals was led entirely by residents. 159 letters of objection were tabled at the Planning committee meeting held on 16th November. Many objected to the loss of a natural nature reserve.  Only one Holgate Councillor attended the Planning committee meeting although the application was refused.

Arson attack on Lodge

West Bank Park

An active voluntary group now helps to sustain the West Bank Park. To address anti-social behaviour issues, they have used “crowd funding” arrangements to secure the park at night. Crime concerns peaked last year when the park lodge was set on fire. It remains as a monument to ineffective policing in the area. There is no evidence that local Councillors have prioritised addressing the issue, although they did authorise a Ward Committee* donation of £2000 to the gate locking project

Carlton Tavern planning application

An application to demolish the Carlton Tavern Pub attracted widespread concern. Opposition was led entirely by residents. Only one Holgate Councillor recorded an objection to the plan when a report was presented to the planning committee in December. The demolition proposal was refused although an appeal against the decision is expected.

Closure of Acomb Police Station

Two years ago, North Yorkshire Police announced that they intended to close the Police station on Acomb Road. The plan might see an alternative depot established in Lowfields. However, the present site provides a high-profile hub for community safety activities plus good access to the whole of west York. The Holgate ward Councillors have failed to oppose the closure plan.

The Holgate area is fortunate in having many active voluntary groups. The Holgate Windmill Preservation Society is an inspiration for many while – against the odds – the Poppleton Road Memorial Hall continues to be sustained entirely by volunteers.

Whether these, and other, local groups get the support they deserve is open to question.

We will try to answer that question next week.

*NB. Most of the delegated Holgate  Ward Committee  budget for 2017  remains unused.

£33+ million estimate for new York central access route

Compromise access route

The preferred option for an access bridge into the York Central site will cost between £33 & £43 million. The route will pass next the Millennium Green, but efforts are being made to minimise its impact.

The new route will effectively provide a by-pass for the Salisbury Terrace/Leeman Road housing area.

The compromise is described in a Council report published today following a period of consultation.

The report is good news for campaigners in the Holgate Road/ Wilton Rise community. They were set to be hit hardest by an access route using Chancery Rise. The Labour council bought the land that this route would have used in 2013 but offered little consultation with nearby residents. Quite how much this blunder has cost taxpayers is unclear at this stage.

So, fare around £3.7 million has been spent on planning work for York central plus site purchase of this £2.3 has come from York taxpayers. Now taxpayers are to be asked for a further £1.9 million to take the project forward.

In addition, the Council is being asked to find 3200,000 towards the costs of an expansion of the Railway Museum. The Museum hopes to invest around £50 million in their project

Following a “Master Planning” exercise for the site, a planning application is expected to be determined in Oct 2018

Consultation on access routes for York Central started in the last decade (see below)

Residents preferred access option location (Water End) remains the same!

Public consultation –
York central access options 2007

 

 

Here we go again – More consultation over access road to York Central

 

Another consultation is to take place on how traffic will access the York central site.

Its over ten years since the options were first published. Since then, debate has raged over whether the link should be from Holgate Road or Water End.  The Chancery Rise option was favoured by the then Labour controlled Council who adopted it with little respect for objectors views.

Public consultation – York central access options 2007

The now the coalition run authority is trying to sort out the mess left by their predecessors.

The proposed consultation on access routes into the York Central site by the York Central Partnership has been given the green light by senior councillors.

City of York Council’s Executive made the decision after receiving an update on progress on the project to redevelop the 72-hectare site, which sits next to the city’s railway station.

York Central Partnership is working towards creating a heritage-led masterplan that will be the first step in opening up the previously landlocked site and demonstrate how it can create new neighbourhoods, parks and public spaces, as well as providing significant new housing and grade-A commercial office space on the largest brownfield site in northern England.

York Central Partnership is made up of Network Rail, the Homes and Community Agency, City of York Counciland the National Railway Museum, whose own ambitious masterplan will form part of the eventual plans.

York Central is a severely constrained site, entirely surrounded by railway lines; the main east coast route connecting London to Edinburgh and the ‘avoiding lines’ for freight trains to bypass the station, in addition to significant rail yards.

Views are now being sought on the ways that vehicles can access the site. A study has already considered factors including the engineering challenge, land availability, and the environment but further views are being sought on the community impact, including noise and visual impact.

York Central access route coptions July 2017

The partnership will present three possible access options for consultation. Two relate to a potential link from Water End into the western part of the site and the third would see access created from Chancery Rise.

Three previous access options being considered, which would have seen a link coming off Poppleton Road have been rejected because they either land on the York Yard South railway sidings, which are still required for rail use until 2023 at the earliest, or would disrupt the use and development of the Network Rail Holgate Engineering Works.

York Central Partnership plans to carry out the consultation on options for the access road in August and September, which will be followed later in the year with a consultation on the scheme’s masterplan.

In the run up to the consultation, the Partnership is also seeking to arrange a series of meetings with groups and individuals interested in the scheme. These sessions will be to explain about the process to date, how it will continue to develop and the key points where groups can get involved to have their say.

At the meeting, executive councillors were also asked to recommend to Council that a wider budget of £37.4m be approved for York Central transport improvements funded from the West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund.

3 access routes for public consultation July 2017

£224k funding boost for York Central

York Central

City of York Council has been awarded £224,000 to help accelerate the development of York Central – a 72 hectare site situated in the heart of the city.

This was the maximum amount of funding the council could be awarded from the Department for Communities and Local Government, which will help speed up the delivery on York’s largest brownfield site.

The fund is part of a £16.5m pot of money called the ‘capacity funding’, which will support house building by providing extra resources to resolve planning issues and other delays.

 

The council applied for the funding in November 2016, with the Homes and Communities Agency receiving 180 bids. Of those, 98 English local authorities successfully received funding.

It is hoped the cash could aid the building of up to 800,000 new homes on sites of 1,500-plus units and in priority Housing Zones across England. York Central was allocated a Housing Zone in 2015.

To find out more about York Central, visit www.york.gov.uk/yorkcentral

Background information:

York Central is  a collaborative development partnership which includes City of York Council, Network Rail, the National Railway Museum and the Homes and Communities Agency to progress investment and delivery for the site.

The site has been designated a Housing Zone as well as an Enterprise Zone and public investment is planned to deliver key infrastructure with a view to de-risk and accelerate this project.

Taxpayers multi million-pound bill for York Central

It looks like the York Council will spend several million tomorrow buying the Unipart site on Leeman Road.

The site is described as an essential piece in the jigsaw of land ownership which must be rationalised before the ambitious York Central development can go ahead.

York Central is a 72-hectare (ha) area of land adjacent to the railway station and is one of the largest brownfield sites in northern England. It provides an opportunity for regeneration providing new homes and Grade A commercial office space. The site is identified in the Local Plan for residential development of up to 1,500 dwellings and 80,000 sqm floor space of high quality grade A office.

The Council is expected to pay over the market value for the Unipart site but is not releasing details of its bid.

The Council hopes that part of the funding will come from the Local Enterprise Partnership in the form of an interest free loan. This loan would be repaid over a 10 year period although it remains unclear how quickly the York Central site could start to produce revenue returns.

Land owned by York Council

Land owned by York Council

The Council originally allocated £10 million of taxpayers funds to support the project. £1/4 million of this has already been spent on salary costs while a further £1.56 million has gone on site preparation costs and other land purchases.

£7.4 million remains although the original expectation had been that this would be spent on infrastructure including an access bridge.

Now a report to the Council’s Executive tomorrow says that the bridge should be part funded by the West Yorkshire Transport Fund (£1.2 million) while the balance of the cost may fall on York taxpayers.

Joining the West Yorkshire Transport Fund is expected to cost York Council taxpayers over £1 million a year. As well as the York Central budget, York expects to get £34 million from the Fund to help pay for 7 new roundabout on the  A1237 northrn by pass

A Council report says, “It current year prices the total York Central Access Scheme was projected to cost £45m predicated upon CYC using £33m of WYTF funding and £12m of local funds. The project was split into 2 main elements: An access route from the local road network (including bridge over the rail lines), the main crescent road and an access to the rear of the railway station (£27.5m) and the demolition of the Queen St Bridge and the creation of an improved transport interchange at the front of the station (£17.5m)”.

Area is run down

Area is run down

The Council remains officially undecided about the access route although three years ago it purchased land near Chancery Rise for the route.  It is now promising that Alliance House (opposite the end of Cleveland Street) will not be demolished in the near future.

Sadly the area is already looking neglected.

Opponents of the Chancery Rise access option [the Friends of Holgate Community garden)  have produced a report on the issue Click here to read

Nowhere in the papers being considered by the Council tomorrow has any attempt being made to provide a clear statement of both capital and revenue liabilities for York taxpayers.  Many different aspects of the programme seem to rely on the Council being a financial underwriter. An uncomfortable position with the project already vulnerable to changing political and economic conditions.

So far a preferred partnership management and business model has still not been agreed

York Central access bridge wobbles

It looks like the plan, approved by the then Labour controlled Council three years ago, to build an access road into the York central site from land near Cleveland Street, is causing second thoughts. No meaningful consultation took place before the Council opted in 2013 to by land on which they hoped to build the access road.

The proposal has now been “called in” for further consideration by the same Labour Councillors who originally said  “Route E” was their favoured route.

access-route-options-nov-2016

 

However a final decision on an access route and other infrastructure works, still seems to be many months away with many funding hurdles – for the whole project – still to be surmounted.

York Council taxpayers are still expected to bear £10 million of the costs of the roads according to the latest Council budget. 

Officials say that a progress report will be presented to the Councils Executive on 21st November with papers being published on 16th November.