Community seek ownership of Holgate play area & Naburn pub

The Council has received two more applications which could allow “community bids” to be made to purchase local amenities.

Holgate gardens

Holgate gardens

The first concerns the Holgate community garden and play area which is located off Cleveland Street.

Local residents have recently been stepping up their objections to the access bridge into the York Central development which could adversely impact on the park.  

Blacksmiths Arms

Blacksmiths Arms

The second application concerns the Blacksmiths Arms pub in Naburn.

A meeting taking place on 12th September will decide whether to add the properties to a list which – in the event of their coming on the market – would allow a local community group to make an offer to buy.

The moves follow similar initiatives last month involving Grove House EPH and  White Rose House in Wheldrake. While the application for Grove House was rejected but the Council has still to determine its approach to the Wheldrake building.


York central development – consultation results published

The results of a public consultation survey undertaken by the Council earlier in the year on the York Central development have been published.

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click to enlarge

Around 1224 responses were received to a survey which was criticised at the time for lack of clarity on project costs and the absence of demand information. 

Many respondents said they couldn’t answer the questions although some pressure groups did use the survey to make points about access arrangements, green infrastructure and the future of the Railway Institute building.

The Council has already published a Draft Local Plan which would see 1500 homes built on the site. Potentially that would leave space for 80,000 sqm of office accommodation.

A draft planning document for the site is expected to be published in November.

Separately a Council report says that York taxpayer’s liability for the project may be less than the £10 million budgeted. They expect the Leeds City Region to stump up £2.55m of this sum as a “loan” although it is still far from clear what the final cost will be to taxpayers.

The Council has so far spent £1.3 million on the project. To that will be added the costs of buying land to facilitate development.

Further details will be published in November.

York Central residents survey.

click to complete

click to complete

Only two weeks left to give your views.

The York Council is now nearly halfway through its “consultation” on the future of the York Central site.

Sad to say, but the information provided to aid residents in making their choices is pretty hopeless. Most obvious omissions are any financial or value for money metrics.

Basically a survey which offers residents anything they want, but without explaining either costs or sources of funding, is bound to lack credibility. Local developers have already questioned he sanity of a project that depends on speculative office development to repay investment in infrastructure.

Similarly a casual suggestion that through traffic should be removed from Leeman Road is bound to prompt a question about the impact on the rest of the highway network?

Key background facts, like the number of unemployed in the City and the number on the housing waiting list, are not provided, yet respondents are asked to take a stab at the number of  new jobs and homes that they think should be provided on the site.

Doubly so, given the sensitivities that still linger on from the Lendal Bridge closure fiasco.

The Council really needs to debate how big they see the City becoming over the next few decades?

Answer that question first  and the contribution that the York Central site (which is ideally located) can make, will become more obvious.

York Central – consultation meeting dates

Have your say on York Central proposals
York central land ownership. Yellow -Network Rail, Purple - Railway Museum, Red - York Council taxpayers

York central land ownership. Yellow -Network Rail, Purple – Railway Museum, Red – York Council taxpayers

Residents and businesses are invited to have their say on the future of York’s largest brownfield site from this month.

Plans were unveiled last month by City of York Council, Network Rail and the National Railway Museum (NRM), to consult with residents and businesses on what has been labelled as the King’s Cross of the North.
Consultation will take place between Monday 18 January and Monday 15 February, via:

Drop-in sessions, at:

  • • West Offices: Station Rise, Thursday 21 January 10am – 4pm
  • • National Railway Museum: Saturday 30 January 10am – 4pm
  • • Holgate and Micklegate joint ward committee: Tuesday 19 January St Paul’s Church, Holgate Road, 6-8pm
  • • York Railway Station: Wednesday 3 February 4pm – 7pm
  • •  Public Exhibition: West Offices, Station Rise. Throughout the duration of the consultation period.

Online at:

Printed copies of the consultation document and questionnaire are also available at West Offices, Hazel Court and all York Libraries and Explore Centres.

Over the past 12-months, the council has been working in collaboration with Network Rail, the NRM and the Homes and Communities Agency towards a high level masterplan of York Central – a 72 hectare site located in the heart of the city.

The city’s new vision could provide up to 120,000 sq m of high-quality office space, creating up to 7,000 new jobs, a new residential community for up to 2,500 new homes, with opportunities to expand and enhance the National Railway Museum, make improvements to the railway station and create a network of vibrant public squares, green spaces and routes linking to surrounding neighbourhoods.

£365,000 for York Central’s development plans

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click to enlarge

City of York Council has been awarded £365,000 of Government funding to help develop plans for York Central, a Housing Zone and an Enterprise Zone which aims to help create to 7,000 new jobs, up to 120,000 sq m of office space and up to 2,500 new homes.

York Central was identified as a Housing Zone in April 2015 and the award of this capacity funding will add to the £355k earmarked by the council in December to progress the next development stage.

The council will use the grant to help fund the delivery team and undertake further technical assessments to ensure the project makes progress whilst a partnership is being shaped with Network Rail, the NRM and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

The HCA has also earmarked £9.4m of equity investment to the site (subject to final agreement of the partnership arrangements and the actual expenditure).

The partnership is also sourcing funding to invest in the infrastructure required to unlock the 72 hectare site which, as usual, was not flooded in the recent events.

Meanwhile, work continues between council, Network Rail, the NRM and the HCA to develop a planning framework.

The Enterprise Zone status means that half of business rates generated from the site, which would have gone back to government, will be retained in the area for 25 years following completion. Businesses moving to York Central will also get business rate relief for the first five years, providing an incentive for inward investment and business growth

Estimates suggest this could help to create up to 7,000 jobs in the city, and over £1.1 billion value for the region’s economy. The jobs created would be high-value office based jobs, helping to grow York’s economy by an estimated 20 per cent and would increase average wages in the city.

The Enterprise Zone status will also support the infrastructure for housing elements of the site, helping to create much-needed new homes on brownfield land and protect the greenbelt.

York Central development site – consultation starts

Taxpayers asked to provide £10 million subsidy for development

Papers released by the Council today suggest that York taxpayers will still be expected to contribute £10 million towards the development of the York Central site.

Enterprise Zone boundary

Enterprise Zone boundary

The expectation had been that this funding – provisionally allocated to fund an access bridge from Holgate Road  by the last Council – would not now be required. The site has now got Enterprise Zone status and also has financial support from the Homes and Communities Agency

Instead, a separate delivery company would set up to fund all infrastructure work. In turn this company would recover its investment from the uplift in the value of the site (currently estimated at £623 million)

Officials are reporting that the Council has already committed £1/2 million to the scheme and are asking for a further £250,000 to fund the administration of the project. The Council could only fund initial infrastructure investment from borrowing leaving taxpayers with an annual bill of nearly £1 million a year.  It could be decades before any return on the investment benefited local residents.

At the moment all the risk  – from what is a complicated project – seems to be falling on York taxpayers

The York Council has only a very small land holding in the area at present although it is seeking compulsory purchase powers to acquire the UNIPART site.

York central land ownership. Yellow -Network Rail, Purple - Railway Museum, Red - York Council taxpayers

York central land ownership. Yellow -Network Rail, Purple – Railway Museum, Red – York Council taxpayers


Spending review – how it may affect York


There will be no cuts to government funding for the Police. North Yorkshire police however already employ fewer officers than they have budget for, so we hope those vacancies will be filled quickly now. What is less clear is what impact the Chancellors statement, that Police Commissioners would have flexibility to raise the police precept, will have locally.

Tax Credits

The Chancellor has scrapped plans to reduce working tax credits. The move has been welcomed by Local LibDem Cllr Sue Hunter

Jobs & housing

The York central site has been awarded “Enterprise Zone” status.  This means all business rates growth generated by the Zone, will be kept by the relevant local enterprise partnership and local authorities for 25 years to reinvest in local economic growth. However, there are fewer planning controls in these Zones. The York Central site is expected to provide 2000 new homes and around 80,000 sq m of office space.

£50 million will be invested in the agri-tech centre at Sandhutton

Elderly care

The Chancellor has said that Council can increase Council Tax by 2% “to help pay for increasing elderly care costs”. This means that the Tories have abandoned their policy of freezing Council Tax. However, income for Council Tax is not hypothecated to individual services, so it remains to be seen whether the government will condition this power by ring-fencing social care expenditure.

The spending statement indicates that there will be increased funding available for the NHS and for Mental Health


Basic state pension to rise by £3.35 next year to £119.30 a week


The statement says that big regional variations in grants to schools would be removed. Historically York schools have been more poorly funded than those in other areas.


The Chancellor has promised major capital investment including HS2 and electrification of the Trans-Pennine route.

However the revenue budget has seen major cuts so there is likely to be less for public transport subsidies and maybe road repairs.

Council Tax

As well as the proposed 2% increase this year, the proposals imply that York will retain more of its Business Rates (it has always been a net contributor to the national pool) but will continue to see reductions in government support grant.

The way that the York Councils budget has been funded has changed a lot over recent years.

York Council chnages in source of income

York Central development – proposals announced

The long awaited report on the development of land behind the railway station has been published by the Council.

York Central Nov 2015

It proposes a major increase in the number of new homes to be provided on the site bringing the total to around 2000.  It is likely to be a high density development similar to that being constructed on Hungate.

The new proposals hark back to the numbers agreed in February 2011 which envisaged 1780 dwellings being built on the site together with around 90,000 Sq m of office space.

This plan was jettisoned by the last Labour administration who – as part of their “Big City” approach – chose to put new housing on green belt sites. They reduced the housing figure at York Central to only 410.

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click to enlarge

The new policy recognises that central brownfield sites offer great advantages, with many facilities, and communication links, within walking distance of people’s homes.

The proposed use of part of the site for additional comparison shopping has been quietly abandoned.

One concern highlighted in the report is that planners think that only about 100 homes per year could be built.

This is an artificial and unnecessary constraint.

A growing economy means that mortgages are again becoming accessible and demand for property is increasing in York.

Building 1800 additional homes over the next 15/20 years is an achievable goal that the Council must go for.

Infrastructure problems remain for the site and the Council has been wise to elicit the support of the Homes and Communities Agency for its housing plans while also seeking Enterprise Zone status to support the growth of office based jobs.

Significantly, the Council has so far failed to seriously debate the actual amount of economic growth that the City could sustain over the next few decades without compromising its character (and transport systems).

It is this relatively high expectation of growth which fuels the demand for more housing most of which will be occupied by inward migration (a total of around 6000 homes are required to meet natural growth over the next 20 years).

The Council claims that high growth in relatively well paid office based jobs is needed to offset the low wages paid in the care, retail and tourism sectors. Growth in care – against the background of an aging population – is inevitable while the Council continues to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds promoting tourism.

Members of the Local Plan Working Group (LPWG) will be asked to consider and provide comments on work to-date at the meeting which takes place on Monday 30 November.

The group will give feedback on their thoughts and recommendations on the emerging plan policy, ahead of an Executive meeting on 15 December – to inform the overall approach to the development of York’s largest brownfield site.

Further detail of the developing project will be included in an upcoming Executive paper. The proposed policy “recognises the significant economic and regeneration benefits which could be achieved for York and the broader region“.

The LPWG will take place on Monday 30 November at West Offices from 5.30pm.

Click here to read the report


Bid to unlock £100m to help deliver York Central site

Public consultation results - York central access options 2011

Public consultation results – York central access options 2011

City of York Council and the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership have announced that today that they  submitted a bid to government which could unlock over £100 million to help deliver York’s largest brownfield site.

However, the bid doesn’t seem to have been approved by any of the York Councils decision making bodies.

No copy of the bid has been published either on the Councils web site or on that of the LEP.

It therefore remains unclear how much the York taxpayer might be expected to contribute towards the costs of the project. The last Labour Council courted unpopularity by allocating £11 million for the provision of a road bridge into the site from Poppleton Road.

The media release claims,

If successful, York Central could be designated as an Enterprise Zone which will mean all of the business rates for the site, which would have gone back to government, will be retained in the area. This will provide the funding to be able invest in the infrastructure required to unlock the site and encourage business investment.

Prospective businesses locating on York Central would also get full business rate relief for the first five-years, providing an incentive for inward investment and business growth.

Estimates in the bid suggest this could help to create up to 6,600 jobs in the city, and over £1.1 billion value for the region’s economy.  The jobs created would be high-value office based jobs, helping to grow York’s economy by an estimated 20 per cent and increase average wages in the city.

Enterprise Zone status will also support the infrastructure for housing elements of the site, helping to create new homes on brownfield land and protect the greenbelt.

Liberal Democrat prospective MP to be selected on Monday evening


Liberal Democrat members are meeting on Monday 15th December to finalise the selection of a Parliamentary candidate who will contest the York Central seat in the General Election which is scheduled to take place on May 7th.

The result of the members ballot is expected to be known at around 8:00pm and details of the candidate will be announced shortly afterwards.

The meeting on Monday is the culmination of a process which has allowed any Liberal Democrat member, who is on the approved list of Parliamentary candidates, to apply for the position.

The party operates a “one member, one vote” system when selecting candidates and short listing is undertaken by local parties.

The sitting MP Hugh Bayley announced earlier in the month that he will not be seeking to retain his seat.

At the last General Election the Liberal Democrat candidate in York Central came within 6,879 votes of winning the seat.

2010 General Election result