One of the properties owned by the Council which has remained empty and unused for a long period of time – 29 Castlegate – looks like it will remain so indefinitely. Budget provision to upgrade the property – which occupies a key position next to Fairfax House – is being taken out of this year’s programme.
Apparently a decision, on the future of the building, will be taken at a meeting next month.
The property, which most recently accommodated a youth support centre, was to have been sold, with the York Civic Trust the most likely occupant. That deal fell through amidst claims that the Council were not getting “best value” for the property.
The Council now says that the refurbishment work cannot start until the next financial year. £270,000 has been allocated for repairs to the building
It remains unclear why the Council did not try to sell the property on the open market and why no attempt has been made to find at least a temporary use for what is a prime site.
The York Civic Trust was reported in the media today as backing a “go slow” by cyclists in the City centre. They were apparently highlighting the need to remove cars from roads to allow for safer cycling.
Any such plans need to be subject to detailed consultation. The Civic Trust could make a start by re-engaging with its own members.
We have already seen on half baked scheme – on Bishopthorpe Road – impact adversely on both shoppers and traders. Nearby roads became clogged at peak times increasing pollution levels.
A similar situation arose at Marygate car park where 40 spaces are currently coned off to provide a (largely unused) route for cyclists. Many cyclists choose to use the internal service road. Meanwhile pressure on parking spaces means shoppers are discouraged and prosperity in the City centre is put under more pressure.
The City does’t benefit from impulsive, uninformed, decision making.
If cyclists – with or without the support of the Civic Trust which really should have other concerns – choose to “go slow” then they will only be replicating life of many riders who try to use existing, suburban, off road cycle paths.
Too many of these are obstructed by hedges and weeds. Surfaces are damaged, signage faded and lines obscured by age. There are no regular maintenance inspections. Even local Councillors seem unaware of the problems or are indifferent to them.
If the Council has funding available then that is where they should make the first investments.
Likely to be of particular interest is an open series of lectures commencing in May which traces the influence that settlers and immigrants have had on the City.
The organisers say that in 2021 they will bring the story up to date. Given the present Home Secretary’s policies that may turn out to be a very short lecture.
The Peoples of York, Lecture 1: Arrivals
This is the first in a landmark series of six talks. The lectures will explore how York was shaped by settlers from Europe and beyond from the earliest times. The stories of individuals and the history of familiar places will come to the fore in six enlightening and engaging talks.
Organised by YCT, and supported by York Museum Trust, these fascinating sessions will be open to everyone. The series will launch with an insight into Roman and Anglian arrivals in York. In the autumn of 2020, the stories of medieval settlers will come to the fore. In 2021, we will hear how the city was shaped by the turbulence of 19th and 20th century migrations across Europe, and bring York’s story up to the present day.
Venue: Friargate Meeting House, Castlegate, York YO1 9RN
The archaeology of Hungate, York has provided evidence for at least 2000 years of continuous human connection to this low lying parcel of land nestled in the Foss valley.
During his talk Peter will trace these connections from the use of the area as a Roman cemetery on the edge of Eboracum, through the organised development on the fringes of Viking Age Jorvik and onwards across time to the start of the 20th century when Hungate was called home by a large working class community.
By illustrating the perspective of the last 2000 years, Peter will reveal how certain choices in the past have influenced the development of the Hungate, we see today. He will finish his talk with a personal view of how contemporary decisions, may influence the development of Hungate in the future.
Cutting Edge Fashion of the Eighteenth Century @ Fairfax House
Opening on the 23rd August and running until the 31st December it includes a fabulous array of men’s and women’s fashion from an era when daring and flamboyant designs brought theatre into everyday life.
The exhibition celebrates ten years of ground breaking
fashion exhibitions at Fairfax House and
draws together works which highlight the exuberance, playfulness and often
extremes in fashion worn by those gorgeous Georgians.
Showcasing sumptuous dresses, suits, shoes and a wealth of
exquisite accessories the exhibition runs throughout the house, offering
visitors a unique opportunity to see Georgian cutting edge fashion up
haven’t seen anybody dead before and we’re in the water, wading to the shore
and we’re literally brushing against… bodies rolling in the surf…eighteen,
nineteen year olds…people that we know…”
brings to life the verbatim memories of the last five York Normandy Veterans
who, as young lads from York, Leeds, Sheffield and London, find themselves part
of one of the most important military operations in World War Two.
in their own words, Bomb Happy follows each Veteran’s unique
journey from D-Day to VE Day highlighting the lifelong impact of post traumatic
the Veterans- a unique opportunity to meet York’s remaining D-Day Veterans,
including one or two of the real men behind the stories in Bomb Happy, alongside
their wives & widows, after the show!
Happy is a verbatim victory….What we see on stage are not worldly-wise old
men reminiscing about the past but boys shipped to an unknown land being
confronted with the carnage of the battlefield. 5 star Review, Broadway Baby
would be hard to imagine a more emotional experience at any Yorkshire theatre
this season.” Charles Hutchinson, York Press
play about ordinary men in extraordinary times deserves a much wider
audience…This really is a must see play, which will stay with you forever.” Paul
Reed, BBC Historian, The World at War
incredibly powerful and moving piece. Brilliant cast. Veterans story told in
their own words. Do please see it if you can.” Neil Foster, BBC Radio
York, BBC Radio Leeds
29 Castlegate, which is located next to Fairfax House, and is owned by the City of York Council continues to be left empty.
Hopes that the property might be purchased by the York Conservation
Trust have disappeared following a change of Chief Executive. They had been expected
to purchase the iconic building for around £431,000. The discounted sale price was
justified in 2017 by claims that significant repair works were needed.
At the same time, the York Civic Trust said that they were
set to lease the building with an investment of £2.8 million to be made, as part
of an expansion of activities at Fairfax House.
It became clear 6 months ago that the York Civic Trust had suspended their plans.
The building – which also benefits from a valuable showroom
frontage onto the Coppergate Shopping Centre – was used for many years as a photographic
gallery. When the gallery moved to Bradford, the Council allocated the space to
be used as a youth advice centre.
The building has remained empty for over 3 years. Potentially
this has cost the Council tens of thousands of pounds in rent and rates income.
Addressing the problems with empty Council owned properties should be a top priority for the new administration when it is elected this week. Too many expensive, high profile, properties like 29 Castlegate and the Guildhall have been left to rot. In future York Councillors must insist on receiving an “unused asset” report on a regular basis. It needs to be transparent.
If the Civic Trust deal on Castlegate has fallen through, then the property should either be leased or sold on the open market.
Because of its prestigious location there is likely to be a lot of interest.
This might include bringing part of the building back into residential use. With apartments at the nearby fire station site selling for over £700,000 each, the opportunities at this address will be obvious to many developers.