Week 3 #MYCQuestions – responses from York Central Partnership

At the beginning of the week we looked through the Post-Its from events and the conversations on social media and chose the week’s hot topics – either new questions or ones which had arisen from consideration of previous responses. The Partnership and the masterplanning team have responded, and these responses are set out below.

As previously, in some cases there are no clear answers to the questions raised, and we’ll again use these to drive discussion as the process of community engagement moves forward. As part of this we’ve suggested possible further questions which spring from the responses. To see these in context, take a look at our Flickr site and use the tags to see media which relates to the various issues.

So, you had been asking:-

There has been talk about “encouraging sustainable modes of transport”, but will York Central be able to ensure actual change?

Response:- The site is centrally located and we’re providing the infrastructure to support walking/cycling/train/bus and limiting parking within the site and there will be Travel Plans for future occupiers/users which can focus on non-car use.

What provision will be made for schools and other community facilities, and where?

Response:- As part of the planning application process, the need for a school and community facilities is being considered through discussions with the Council and the Partnership will make land available.

How will culture and the arts be built into York Central?

Response:- It is very much anticipated that the richness and vibrancy of the arts and culture in the city of York will be a key part of the place-making at York Central. Helped by the presence of an enhanced national museum with over 1 million visitors and unrivalled transport connectivity, the site will provide a number of new spaces for the city’s existing arts and cultural organisations to programme, produce for and perform/exhibit. These spaces will include new public squares, parks and buildings. The YC Partners wish to continue to work with York Cultural Leaders and other cultural stakeholders to ensure that the full range of cultural opportunities at York Central are identified and delivered. The Council’s Draft Local Plan (Publication Draft) includes a policy for cultural provision (specifically policy D3), where culture and wellbeing are identified as one of the twelve core planning principles underpinning plan making which will be considered by YCP.

Follow-up question:- The proposals for arts and culture in the draft Local Plan call for the production of a Statement of Cultural Wellbeing for major new developments. Will such a document be produced here, and who will produce it?

How do we build a community, and how will this link with existing communities?

Response:- YCP is providing homes with a variety of tenure and unit sizes to encourage a broad mix of users and this includes a commitment to provide 20% affordable housing. YCP will be focussing on integrating adjoining communities physically by providing better links and by listening to comments made about facilities people would like to see that are deficient in their locality.

How are the universities and their students being involved in shaping York Central?

Response:- York’s Higher Education Board have been briefed on York Central, and further meetings are planned with individual organisations. YCP held a pop-up at York College and have run sessions with York Youth Council and a Secondary School Voice workshop. Details of the Festival will be circulated to share with their staff and students.

How will buildings in York Central respond to moves towards zero carbon, and will the development take a lead in this?

Response:- Building regulations and Local Plan policies with regard to sustainability and energy will be met. Exploration of these elements is underway and will inform the planning submission. YCP is looking at low levels of parking for private use, and promoting cycle/ pedestrian movement and this is a work in progress.

Follow-up question:- Some local authorities (such as Bicester, Exeter and Norwich) are pursuing higher standards of sustainability where their ownership of the land permits them to do this. Is this something the Partnership might pursue, and what would be the factors in considering it?

Growing a Garden City – Uxcester and York

Thursday 5th April 7:00pm – 9:00pm
National Railway Museum Mallard Suite
Book your free place

David Rudlin was the author of URBED’s blueprint for sustainable urban growth which won the prestigious Wolfson Economics Prize in 2014. Part economic manifesto and part spatial strategy the proposal showed a radical way in which the fictional city of Uxcester could grow and provide an improved environment for its citizens. He said at the time “We believe that the expansion of existing places like Uxcester to create garden cities has the potential to make a significant contribution to meeting our housing needs as well as creating places that are attractive and popular, and that fulfil their economic potential.” At a time when York is considering its future – and the adoption after many decades of a Local Plan – this should be essential reading, but better still the fictitious Uxcester is in fact York, and we have David here to lead us through it and the clear thinking behind it. An illustrated talk and Q&A. There will be refreshments.

David Rudlin manages URBED (Urbanism Environment and Design) and is Chair of the Academy of Urbanism. He is a planner by training and is now a Honorary Professor at Manchester University. He was for six years the Chair of Beam in Wakefield and is also chair of the Sheffield and Nottingham Design Panels.

This event is jointly promoted by York Civic Trust and My Future York.

Climax City – Understanding Masterplanning and Urban Growth

Thursday 5th April 2:00pm – 4:30pm
Gather outside Hiscox, Stonebow, and we’ll return to National Railway Museum Mallard Suite
Book your free place

David Rudlin of URBED will participate in a guided walk to explore the development of York, followed by a talk and Q&A looking at the way cities grow. This is based on his forthcoming book Climax city: Masterplanning and the Complexity of Urban Growth which explores the ‘natural’ growth of cities and the way in which this is influenced by masterplanning. The notion is that every place has a ‘climax urbanism’, just as it has a ‘climax vegetation’ and that throughout history humans have been trying to influence this climax state in the way that they plan cities. It is something that we need to understand if we are to plan effectively today.

David Rudlin manages URBED (Urbanism Environment and Design) and is Chair of the Academy of Urbanism. He is a planner by training and is now a Honorary Professor at Manchester University. He was for six years the Chair of Beam in Wakefieldand is also chair of the Sheffield and Nottingham Design Panels.

This event is jointly promoted by York Civic Trust and My Future York.

Public Spaces – two local schools

About fifteen years ago I was asked to work on proposals for a Homezone – an area where streets were modified to tip the balance away from cars and towards local people, especially children – around St.Barnabas School. I spent an afternoon with kids at the school working with them to identify outdoor places they used, what they did there, and what made them work well. The children quickly gave me a long list of games they played in the streets, using only kerbs, walls, lamp-posts and other available props. They also listed things which were problems (including “teenagers”. We all seem to have problems with everyone who is a different age to ourselves).

This week I revisited St.Barnabas – in its (relatively) new premises, and Poppleton Road school. I again worked with the children to ask them what outdoor spaces they used, and what they did there. The list was very different – very few of the children described playing in their street. Many described places which were “elsewhere” in relation to home – the seaside, the zoo, even cruise ships. One or two described being discouraged by their parents – “my parents don’t let me use the garden in case I mess it up” while for many others there was no garden, and the surrounding streets had ceased to be their realm. But they did wonderfully creative pictures which are on our Flickr site. Children at St.Barnabas described places they’d ideally like to spend time here, while children at Poppleton Road described their current favourite (real) places here. I also asked the children to identify the one quality which made their favourite place special – a quality which could be part of the brief for any new public space in a new part of town, and the list was:-

  • Wildlife nearby
  • Places which you can use for free
  • Unexpected stuff – nice surprises
  • Fun and pleasure (and ice-cream)
  • (while we’re being greedy, let’s have fish and chips too)
  • Places to skateboard which aren’t always skateparks
  • Water
  • Places to chill, which were calm
  • Places to grow food (even Brussel Sprouts)
  • Woodland to play and hide (and also show people trees are things of value)
  • Usable outdoor space
  • Shelter to do things or watch other people do things
  • Places to play sports
  • Personal space, including gardens (whether on the ground or the roof or a balcony)
  • Places to stay such as camping places
  • Safe streets which can be played in, even if there are cars around
  • Places to walk dogs

I’ll be going back in a couple of weeks to talk about movement – how they get around – and will report back. Many thanks to the helpful and welcoming staff at both schools.

In addition to admiring the artwork in the Flickr albums, you can see how the issues the children thought important fit in with overall discussions. Simply go to our tags page here and click on any of the tags.

York Central Transport and Access – Professor Tony May

7:00pm – 9:00pm, Wednesday 11th April

National Railway Museum
Book your free place

York resident Dr Tony May specialises in urban transport and has provided advice in the UK, Europe and internationally. He is the transport specialist on York Civic Trust’s Planning Committee

This event will feature an illustrated talk bringing in examples from the Vauban project in Freiburg to examine how sustainable transport can genuinely form the heart of new development, shaping it and making it a pleasant and more affordable place to live and work. We’ll discuss the current emerging masterplan, how closely this reflects the priorities set out in York’s Local Transport Plan, and how it might be further developed to make both the new development and surrounding existing communities more sustainable.

What makes a good cycle route? A Look At Your City Ride with York Cycle Campaign

Saturday 14th April 2:00pm – 4:30pm approx.
Cycle Heaven, Hospital Fields Road
Book your free ticket

The proposals for York Central – like almost every new development today – talk about “encouraging walking and cycling” and refer to “high quality cycle infrastructure”. But what does this actually mean – what makes a good cycle route and hence a good cycle ride? What can we learn from York’s existing infrastructure in order to make York Central a place where people want to cycle? To find out, we’ll be doing a guided ride led by York Cycle Campaign, exploring the roads and cycle paths of York, and ending (as all good cycle rides do) with cake and chat. We’ll look at cycling infrastructure proposals for York Central and – with the experience of our ride fresh in our minds – discuss whether it will encourage us to cycle there.

The ride is open to anyone but children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Some of the route is likely to represent less-than-ideal routes, so some confidence cycling in the vicinity of traffic is required. For those who are happier off-road we will be returning via New Walk riverside path so feel free to join us at 3:15 by the Blue Bridge for a leisurely return ride along New Walk. We’ll end the ride at Cycle Heaven on Hospital Fields Road and will gather in the cafe there to compare thoughts and ideas.

For more information on York Cycle Campaign:-

Twitter @yorkcycle
Facebook @yorkcyclecampaign

Week 2 #MYCQuestions: responses from York Central Partnership

Again we took the questions from the second week of My York Central to the York Central Partnership. Their responses are published below each question. Some answers are clear and address the concerns the questioners were raising. Other responses inevitably invite further questions, discussion and exploration. We’ll be using these cases – where there is no simple or settled ‘answer’ – to help us design events to deepen the conversation during The Festival of York Central. Again we’d love anyone interested to come forward with ideas for events.

So to each of the York Central Partnership responses below we ask: What further questions or issues does this raise for you?

Question 1.      In terms of the York Central Partnership, who is investing what and what to they want to get out of York Central?

Response from York Central Partnership:- All Partners are committed to delivering the development of York Central in order to provide the economic growth, housing delivery and cultural growth at York. To date, the Partners have individually invested various sums of money into York Central – CYC has allocated £10million, of which £4.4million has been approved to be spent, Network Rail has similarly spent £4.4m on land assembly and rail clearance, Homes England has spent £18.9m towards land assembly and has contributed a further £200k towards the planning costs of the site. The National Railway Museum has spent £1.14m to date on the masterplanning of its museum development scheme, which will represent an investment of around £50 million to deliver.

Question 2.      How can we make the streets of York Central full of children playing? 

Response from York Central Partnership:- We are proposing that York Central will include a variety of housing types and sizes for all age groups including families with children that will make it their home. The park and open spaces will be open to them and to the wider community and should be seen as a destination in the city for relaxation and play with the steam trains of the NRM forming a backdrop. Streets and courtyards in the residential areas will include space for playable streets and local doorstep play as well as more formal play locations.

Question 3.      Where are the planners – Allies and Morrison – getting their inspirations from?

Response from York Central Partnership:- Our inspiration for York Central comes from the site itself, its railway history and the heritage buildings that remain. We are also interested in understanding and resolving it’s inherent challenges and addressing it’s setting and integration within the wider city fabric and character of York. We have looked at York precedents; of urban block structure and the scale and nature of buildings and streets, squares, lanes and yards in the city. We want the layers of history of the site not to be erased, but be overlaid and legible in defining a rich sense of place that is very much part of 21st Century York. 

Question 4.      Have we properly considered trams and light rail?

Response from York Central Partnership:- A tram or light rail has been considered for York previously but is no longer being proposed within the current Local Transport Plan for the city, which is focusing much more on the bus provision including the Park and Ride services. In this context, we are working to make the best use of the current and planned public transport provision. 

Follow-up:- Can York Central go beyond the thinking in the Local Transport Plan and pilot more radical forms of sustainable transport, given its unique position as a new quarter, in the way other similar-scale developments have overseas?

Question 5.      How long will York Central last? Are we building an area of the city to last as long as parts of York’s city centre?

Response from York Central Partnership:- We are seeking to create new neighbourhoods for York with well-designed and well-constructed buildings and infrastructure that will last for decades. In order to ensure longevity, York Central must be flexible to respond to changes in society, including how people live, work and spend their leisure time. If we get this right, we expect the neighbourhoods to be around for many years to come.

Question 6.      How can we ensure all the property doesn’t get sold off to investors?

Response from York Central Partnership:- We are focusing on ensuring that the mix of homes to be built at York Central creates a supply that can help to meet the local demand for housing, specifically ensuring it has the right sizes of homes to meet the needs of York’s residents. Some of these homes will be ‘affordable’ homes, which will be owned and managed by housing associations, who can prioritise local people in their lettings policies.  The site will create a supply of land to be used for open market homes and it is anticipated this could be a mix of sale and rent but the nature of purchasers cannot be restricted under current national planning and housing policies. Suggestions on details of any such restrictions that have been proven to work would be welcomed.

Follow-up:- Are there specific tenure options or other arrangements which would ensure long-term availability as affordable housing, rather then the homes becoming commodities?