St.Peter’s Quarter and a positive vision of a future York Central

Briefing notes from workshop 28th June 2018 / St. Barnabas Church

We ran a workshop session for residents of St.Peter’s Quarter where we asked participants to “describe a day in your life in ten years’ time and how the development of York Central might make living in St. Peter’s Quarter different, and better, to today”. Narrative was noted on Post-Its and they were then grouped by theme and discussed further, with additional comments and ideas being added on further Post-Its. This blog is based on the final, grouped Post-Its. The brief is linked throughout to the My York Central Big Ideas that emerged from the Festival of York Central.

Briefing notes by theme:-

Culture & Community (relate to MYC Big Ideas “Exploit the benefits of high density” and “Public spaces that enable people to be collectively creative”)

  • York Central to provide rich culture on the doorstep of the city central and SPQ – to be a destination in its own right. “I want to turn left out of SPQ for my entertainment, not just right”.
  • Local people should be able to think of “ten things to do in York Central” and this should be a 24/7 place with no time barrier and no dead times. There should be larger-scale activities (markets and craft fairs) and smaller informal activities (busking / “take over” activities).
  • There should be free / cheap activities and the public space should encourage use – “there should be no signs saying NO” (e.g. No Ball Games). From public picnic tables and BBQs to play areas and park space with goalposts which stay there all year.
  • Public space should have an element of the unexpected; there should be places which feel a little wild, opportunities to explore and discover – from orchards to places with hidden narrative to be discovered.
  • Local shops and cafes that bring proper city living to SPQ – independent coffee shops for a morning walk, “shops like Bishy Road” and the ability to pop out for a drink rather than it being a lengthy trek.

Work and Life (relate to MYC Big Ideas “Beyond Zoning” and “A community made through exchange”)

  • The layout of York Central should encourage exploring on foot and bike – “less zoning means more reason to wander”. Mixed use planning “shouldn’t drag you into the centre all the
    time” and “spreads the spending power”. Mixed use also avoids the “zombie” landscape – empty of people during day or evening.
  • York Central should function well for people working from home – neighbourhoods should reflect the fact that people may live much of their daily/weekly life very locally.
  • York Central should function for all ages – by providing for all stages of life it builds community as people have less need to move elsewhere. There will need to be everything
    from nurseries and childcare through to reasons to want to live there in retirement. No-one should feel alienated – the place should feel unthreatening with opportunities for all ages to
    mix, and reasons for teenagers to “buy in” to the community and place.

Connections from SPQ (relates to MYC Big Idea “Exploit the benefits of high density” and “People, not more cars”)

  • York Central must open up new connections with SPQ – “if you want to embrace a
    community you have to open up”. This requires avoiding any “them and us” attitude and
    would bring benefits such as residents being able to “walk straight out into the park” and the
    protection of collective space and property by “more eyes, more children, more dog

Movement (relate to MYC Big Ideas “People, not more cars”

  • There should be improved movement around York Central and the surrounding communities without adverse impact. Air quality should improve and the feeling of danger brought about by fast traffic next to narrow footways should be eliminated. There should be no parking on pavements, smoother routes for the disabled, and places to perch and rest. Walking should be “so pleasant it gives no-one an excuse to get a taxi”.
  • There should be an improved route into the city centre through the NRM and onwards using shared space and free from cars. The new square in front of the NRM should be “free of queues of cars” and be pleasant and free from stress. Direct access from SPQ to the city centre and the station must be 24/7. It must feel safe and be well-lit, well-looked-after and well-used by others
  • There should be improved routes from SPQ / Leeman Road into York – a new pedestrian/cycle access across the tracks linking SPQ and the NRM to the riverside and links with river taxis and water activities which encourage riverside use.
  • To the south there should be a cycle-friendly bridge to Holgate – “like the Millennium bridge”.
  • York Central should provide a proper integrated transport network – there should be little need to drive through. This should include local provision (maybe bike share for SPQ and other communities) and clear, legible bus routes which actually go where people want to go (not just the city centre) plus broader thinking about investment in rail to encourage sustainable commuting both in and out of York. Public transport should be so good that it becomes “cool” – the preferred way to move.
  • Parking should be dealt with creatively. A mixed-use development should allow sharing of space so workers and residents don’t both need dedicated spaces. Shared parking encourages informal negotiation between users – whether they live or work there or are visitors.