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?

The Life-Sized City screenings

York Central represents a big change for York – but we’re not alone; other cities are changing too and they can bring to us ideas on how we shape our new piece of city around the people who will live, work and play there.

The Life-Sized City is a ground-breaking documentary series that explores the anatomy and vibrancy of the modern city, highlighting pockets of life-sized goodness in cities around the world. Hosted by the boldly outspoken and charismatic Mikael Colville-Andersen, often referred to as the Anthony Bourdain of urban development, the series reveals inspiring stories from everyday citizens yearning for change and urban renewal. Each episode focuses on one city and on what makes it livable for its residents.

Mikael gives a voice to those who go above and beyond stereotypes and who dare to make a difference, from ordinary citizens to urban activists and political leaders. He is at the helm of intriguing and creative encounters with those who make up the social fabric that redefines city life, talking about public space, transport, family life, urban sprawl, bikeability and green initiatives – all on a human scale. Interacting with true urban heroes, he gets dirt under his fingernails and puts theory to practice as he takes part in surprising urban innovations.

Join us in the York Central Exhibiton space at the National Railway Museum. Drop in, no need to book.

Sunday 25th March 1pm – 2pm (and join us for our ‘Pulling Together the Conversations’ workshop, 2-4pm)

Monday 2nd April 1pm – 2pm (and join us for our ‘Pulling Together the Conversations’ workshop, 2-4pm)

Wednesday 5th April 2pm – 3pm

Sunday 8th April 1pm – 2pm (and join us for our ‘Pulling Together the Conversations’ workshop, 2-4pm)

Sunday 15th April 1pm – 2pm (and join us for our ‘Pulling Together the Conversations’ workshop, 2-4pm)

The Secret Life of York’s Public Spaces

A busy St Helen’s Square: What can we learn from seeing places we know well from lots of different perspectives?

24th March, 6.30-8.30pm
Cycle Heaven, Hospital Fields
Book your free place

How can we learn from the spaces we know well to develop brilliant public space in York Central and Castle Gateway?

We often don’t really notice why a public space works, we just know if we like being there. Good public space has to somehow balance being welcoming when you want to linger, with being easy to navigate when you’re on the move. How can we achieve this with new urban public spaces in Castle Gateway and York Central?

We’ll bring to this event lessons from York’s existing public spaces. Earlier in the day we’ll do a walk with a group of people with different perspectives on public space to do some collective analysis. Having experienced York’s public spaces together – the good and the not-so-good – the group will prepare ideas and questions and will lead the evening workshop. We will consider the needs of the young and old, those who want to walk carefully, amble and watch the world go by as well as those who want to pass through our public spaces as quickly as possible.

We’ll then look at the new public spaces which will be created in both York Central and Castle Gateway. We will work together to set some principles – captured in a draft manifesto which we’ll open up for more comment throughout the Festival of York Central – which can be used to shape dynamic and inclusive public space. This is your chance to explore the big challenges of designing new areas of the city and to help shape its new public realm.

Welcoming Streets Reimagined to York Central

A busy Coney Street in the 1970s. Image by Trevor Jones. Thanks to York Explore Libraries and Archives.

We delighted to have been able to invite Finlay McNab from Streets Reimagined to York to help us explore York Central and Picadilly, part of the Castle Gateway project.

York Central: Streets Reimagined Walks
21st March, 1-4pm
The Winning Post, Bishopthorpe Raod
Book your free place

Join Finlay McNab from Streets Reimagined to explore some of York’s most and least successful streets. We will work with Finlay – drawing on his experience of developing thriving streets in other cities – to analyze and understand what make streets work. We will use observation and ethnographic techniques to develop new perspectives on how people use and interact with urban spaces, and in turn, how this can inform the design of successful urban places. We will ask: How can you combine homes, work and social spaces? What makes streets feel safe at all times of day? What enables children to play outside? We will co-produce a range of materials that will then feed into an evening event – with a bigger group – at the National Railway Museum. You are welcome to attend both workshps but you can just come for the afternoon workshop if that suits you.

York Central: Streets Reimagined
7-9pm, National Railway Museum (West Enternace not the main enterance)
Book your free place

How might streets in York Central be designed around people, sociability and play? Drawing on extensive experience of developing living and livable streets Finlay McNab from Streets Reimagined will help us build on an analysis of streets we know well in York – their strengths and weaknesses – and help us all imagine the streets of York Central. As well as highlighting an array of examples from around the world to inspire and challenge, this interactive session will invite participants to explore what makes a street or a neighbourhood more liveable. There will also be an opportunity for participants to get involved, to debate and to get creative. We will end the workshop by developing a York Central: Manifesto for Streets to be shared in the National Railway Museum as part of Festival for York Central for further ideas, debates and conversation.

Week 2 #My York Central Questions

Welcome to Week 2 of My York Central Questions – we’ve had the responses to our first batch of questions and we’re currently using all the questions submitted to help us develop events for The Festival of York Central. We are delighted to present our second crop of questions – sent off to the York Central Partnership for their consideration. We have one more week of calling for questions before we move into our Festival events, so do send ’em in. And there’s a chance to pose the questions in person at the Meet the York Central Partners and Professionals event, 14th March, 7.30pm (book your free place).

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

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

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

Have we properly conisdered trams and light rail?

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?

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