Crowdsourcing a Community Plan for York Central

My York Central generated Big Ideas, a Vision and Principles for York Central. Some of these ideas made their way into the masterplan and are reflect in the outline planning consent granted in 2019 but many did not or where not foreclosed.

Out of My York Central came York Central Co-Owned (YoCo), a community group that aims to carry forward the ideas from the public engagement process and develop a co-owned neighbourhood on York Central as a model for the rest of the site.

In order to develop the ideas, networks, profile and momentum to really ensure York Central is what the people of York want and need it to be we have set up a collaboration with Demos we’re calling Crowdsourcing a Community Plan for York Central, using an approach they call Combined Choice to manage a processes of community action to develop alternative plans and – through a digital platform – the ability for a large number of people (up to 10,000) to express preferences/vote/comment on the emerging plans.

Crowdsourcing a Community Plan for York Central launches on 2nd October 2021 and will run for two months.

To find out more or get involved see the YoCo website or come to the launch or one of our Meet Up events.

Co-Owned Neighbourhoods on York Central – Shaping a way forward

Co-Owned Neighbourhoods on York Central – Shaping a way forward
Thursday 28th November 2019
Friargate Quaker Meeting House, Lower Friargate, York, YO1 9RL

Book a place

Our York Design Week event identified a range of issues – from sharing to wildness – and collective discussion of these flagged up a number of initial steps on the path towards a community partnership that could shape York Central and create homes, work, culture and play there. This event will look at these steps and we’ll start working out…

what sort of body should we establish to carry this process forwards?
how can we work towards a range of types of housing and tenures on York Central?
how can we shape wonderful, wild, open space in an urban environment?
how do we bring on board partners who will connect York’s amazing education and culture with learning, creativity and work?
how can we ensure the development responds to the climate emergency and zero-carbon commitments which York has made?

Come along and collectively take this forwards. An evening of sharing of ideas and knowledge, planning and setting of goals. If you’re new to York Central and the community’s vision for it, then take a look here.

Policy into Practice

Policy into Practice – workshop on 16th August

Run in Partnership with York Explore

Our aim with this event was to look seriously at key policies held by the council which reflect the principles and aspirations of local people and their representatives. We are a One Planet city which implies a broad set of principles; there is a commitment to a transport hierarchy that puts pedestrians, people with mobility problems and cyclists at the top; we are a Human Rights City and also a UNESCO Creative City. We were interested in using this workshop to explore what this might mean for York Central.

But how? We decided that the key indicator was a simple question:- “if you woke up on York Central in 15 years time, how would you know this policy had been fully realised? What would you be doing? Who would be there? What could you see? What could you hear? How would it feel?”

Opening presentations were given, and discussions around four tables were facilitated by:-
Chris Bailey speaking on UNESCO Creative Cities
Liz Lockey speaking about York: Human Rights City
Mark Alty speaking on One Planet York
Phil Bixby standing in for the CoYC transport team and outlining York’s agreed transport hierarchy.

Discussion was lively, and Post-Its from the discussions can be found, as with all our Post-It-based input, tagged and sorted on our Flickr site.

Following the event, Chris Bailey wrote a short but thoughtful piece which references the UNESCO designation but notes that human rights should be at the heart of thinking about everyone’s life and creativity:-

Just ‘living life’

Looking back at 2014, when we won the title of York UNESCO City of Media Arts, I must admit many of us wondered how this relates to our beautiful, historic city.

Part of it is that we got off to a false start. Like all councils, York thought mostly in terms of priorities, things they have to do (inevitably with too little money!) to avoid doing harm or to fulfil a Government inspired target. No wonder they always looked for the ‘quick wins’. The connection to the way people actually live their lives often seemed remote, even when the policy was something vital, like providing good housing. The ‘services’ on offer, we lazily thought, were meant for someone else, someone less fortunate than us. The problem is that, at some point, that ‘someone’ actually is us. Why should what we want for others, be different from what we want for ourselves, or our children?

A conversation back in 2018 put us on the right track. We don’t ask to have things go wrong in our lives but we live with the consequences of disabling illness or injury, or worsening conditions. If you have to use an electric scooter to get about then decisions about urban design can easily cut off your potential to be parents, productive workers, or valued friends. This is bad for our wellbeing, and for the community as a whole. The technology that gives the benefit of shopping online also gives us the challenge of streets clogged with delivery vehicles, and hours trapped at home awaiting a vital delivery. Technology must be transparent in operation and accountable in its application.

We realised then that policies should always start from our potential as human beings, as people and as citizens. A truly Creative City seeks to develop the talent in everyone, and to provide space for participation. It also ensures that our leisure and cultural organisations are responsive to the wishes of the community and reflect their identity and traditions.

And in the spirit of Paul Osborne’s wonderful bit of future thinking for the 2018 Festival of Ideas, Phil Bixby condensed discussion at his table into a brief description of life on a future York Central with a transport hierarchy:-

The joy of a blank sheet
We’ve often made excuses for poor transport in York – the historic city, the narrow roads. But York Central was a clean sheet – a chance to design a piece of city from scratch. It cried out for radical ideas. Why didn’t Network Rail take a lead in proposing rail-based transport? It’s a mystery. We needed ideas which would appeal to the next generation – where you get the kids excited and they pass it on to their parents.

Behaviour change
We needed to break down the barriers between modes of transport – it’s not about “being a cyclist” or “being a driver”. I have a car, but I don’t use it in town, for all sorts of reasons. Some of the radical ideas make me smile – when deliveries turn up by pedal power for example. And people have changed – a friend now does the school run with her kid in a cargo bike. He thought he’d be a local celebrity but in fact there are so many of them now he just waves to other kids in cargo bikes!

That process of change was interesting – it took a measure of nastiness to stop “those journeys which weren’t necessary”. The car to the corner shop, the school run because walking meant leaving ten minutes earlier. Congestion charging was considered but rejected as being unfair to the poor. In the end it came down to making things visible – they fitted a big interactive sign on all the main roads into York showing pollution levels and pictures like on fag packets – clag pouring out or arteries and stuff – and it worked. There was talk about pumping some sort of chemical into the air which made the pollution visible – instant smog – but in the end people got the message before it happened.

Walking and cycling
I can walk to the station along good, car-free routes – not just back alleys but main walking routes – which connect up and make a permeable area. The footways are level and wide, so older people and wheelchair users actually use them, and in winter the snow is cleared on the footways (and cycleways) before the roads.

Junctions are designed for pedestrians and cyclists – all traffic lights have a cycle-only slot at the start of each light change which gives cyclists time to leave the junction (not just a couple of seconds head start). Traffic lights give equal time to pedestrians too – I recall a few years back counting 21 pedestrians waiting to cross a junction, and there were fewer occupants in the cars which the lights let through. How was that a hierarchy? There are so many more cyclists now, and all sort of different bikes – real signs of change.

Public Transport
I can get a bus easily too – with genuinely useful connections across the city – not just the radial routes. They’re reliable because there are fewer cars clogging the roads, and many more bus-only routes. They’re cheaper too, which works because they’re well used. They work well – they once again have space for luggage, and are comfortable, like coaches. They have enough time on their routes to actually let older people sit down rather than tearing off as soon as the last customer is past the ticket machine.

The other big difference is that they’re in public ownership, so social value is built into all contracts, and drivers are properly paid (lives depend on them, after all).
A transport hierarchy was never just about making everything easier, but about making choices. Until driving was made less convenient, sustainable transport never stood a chance, but now it’s the way we all get about, most of the time. And when you do need the car – you may have to go further but the roads are so empty!

So, what does “a community made through exchange” actually mean?

We’ve talked of York Central as a community made through exchange; this implies a place where people choose to live and/or work because it brings together people and capital of all sorts in a way which encourages the interactions which can make cities great places to be. It would be a conscious community – designed on the basis of high density and mixed use, giving neighbourhoods where most of the resources needed for life are within walking distance (and with easy links to public transport or good onward walking/cycling routes) and where that process of life and work animates the place – streets and places are busy, and life and culture shape the experience of being there.

To enable this to happen, buildings, infrastructure and economic structures need to work together. In addition to this walkable density the economics of the place need to be shaped in such a way as to allow accessibility and opportunity. Recent graduates should be able to live there, in apartments which allow workspace and also give proximity to employers and shared facilities. Families should be able to live there to bring stability to the community and to bring life to streets and public spaces. Older people should be able to downsize there – swapping an oversized family house for a really high-quality apartment with no heating bills and a high standard of year-round comfort, but still leaving them with spare capital.

One way in which this might work is for those moving into York Central to invest in the community. For example, the down-sizers might be able to invest in joint ownership of ground-floor commercial space – an opportunity to foster economic development by helping business start-ups which in turn contribute to the neighbourhood. The young professional in the rented unit then brings trade and life to the corner café, which also rents out meeting space when needed; they run occasional classes or late afternoon sessions to teach skills to local teenagers. Retired professionals have opportunities to pass on a lifetime’s experience to people starting out, and the young parent who needs a free afternoon for work gets local childcare.

There is an opportunity within this to create a place where additional resources help drive this process of exchange. A building where business incubator space attracts knowledge and skill, where flexible space provides for meetings / workshops / learning and where shared equipment allows boundaries to be pushed. Plus where facilitation and sharing of time and skills gives opportunities for people who need them and where inequalities can be addressed. Where young and old can teach and learn, where arts and culture can interact with making and technology. A place where York’s rich mix of bodies involved with learning and economic development can work together.

Heading towards the York Central Outline Planning Application

Of the 8 My York Central Big Ideas some are not going to be determined or preculded by the York Central Outline Planning application – but the Outline Planning application does represent a decision-making point for some aspects.

Throughout the Festival of York Central – via 45+ events and 3500 post it notes – a big conversation was had about the future of York Central. This was all made possible by local people bringing their understanding and hopes for themselves and their city; many with the commitment to help run events, lead walks and rides, and share their expertise. The Big Ideas and Vision developed from this process set out the building blocks for a truly ground-breaking new part of York – unique in the UK.

The York Central outline planning application will be submitted on 8th August and will set out parameters for the development of the site. Many of these My York Central Big Ideas will not be affected by the parameters set out in the outline planning application. Big ideas such as ‘a community made through exchange’ or ‘homes for living, not investment’ are ideas where we are drawing in expertise and, through events over the next month, we are seeking to build the networks that will bring these ideas to life on York Central in the future.

However, the outline planning application does represent a decision-making moment for a number of key issues, such as traffic and pedestrian movement through the site. As a result we are working with York Central Partnership to create a series of open spaces where the masterplan thinking – and the reasoning for the emerging decisions – can be publicly shared, debated, challenged and discussed. For example we have a York Central Movement: In depth and in context event next Monday, we will be explore the question of viability and how the York Central numbers might stack up, how the council’s policies (such as One Planet and Human Rights City) can be brought to life on York Central as well as events explore Community-Led Economic Development and Community-Led Housing.

Our aim – in collaboration with York Central Partnership – is that ideas on all sides (both the My York Central Big Ideas and the York Central Partnership masterplan ideas) are openly and rigorously tested before a path is settled on.

York Central and provision for York’s Gypsy and Traveller communities

My Future York have been working with York Travellers Trust over the past year to explore a variety of issues related to sites, flooding and future developments. In this blog we explore the links between York Central and York’s Gypsy and Traveller communities.

York Gypsy and Traveller Provision in the draft Local Plan

In the draft Local Plan – now submitted to government for approval – specific provision is made for the development of future Gypsy and Traveller pitches. [Policy H5, Local Plan Publication Draft (February 2018), pp. 106-107]

It is stated:

Key evidence including the Equality and Human Rights Commission report Inequalities Experienced by Gypsy and Traveller Communities (2009) suggests that today Gypsies and Travellers are the most marginalised and disadvantaged of all minority groups nationally, suffering the greatest inequalities across a range of indicators.

(Policy H5, Local Plan Publication Draft (February 2018), p. 108)

Yet national legislation has had the potential to negatively affect the future of York’s gypsy communities. In August 2015 planning guidance changed the definition of Gypsy and Traveller to remove the idea of a cultural identify, ‘persons with a cultural tradition of nomadism or living in a caravan’. Since the new policy came into effect, this has meant that to be recognised as a Gypsy or a Traveller for planning purposes you had to be only temporarily settled. This has had serious implications for planning for the community’s future through the Local Plan. With this change in planning guidance, the number of pitches projected in the Local Plan went from 66 to 3.

  1. a) Within Existing Local Authority Sites

In order to meet the need of Gypsies and Travellers that meet the planning definition, 3 additional pitches will be identified within the existing three Local Authority sites.

(Policy H5, Local Plan Publication Draft (February 2018), pp. 106)

However, the council has  supplemented these figures through an active use of equalities legislation to identify an addition 44 pitches. The delivery of these 44 pitches is linked to developer duty based on the scale of housing development, as is noted in the final version of the Local Plan.

  1. b) Within Strategic Allocations

In order to meet the need of those 44 Gypsies and Traveller households that do not meet the planning definition:

Applications for larger development sites of 5 ha or more will be required to:

  • provide a number of pitches within the site; or
  • provide alterative land that meets the criteria set out in part (c) of this policy to

accommodate the required number of pitches; or

  • provide commuted sum payments to contribute towards to development of

pitches elsewhere.

The calculations for this policy will be based on the hierarchy below:

  • 100 – 499 dwellings – 2 pitches should be provided
  • 500 – 999 dwellings – 3 pitches should be provided
  • 1000 – 1499 dwellings – 4 pitches should be provided
  • 1500 – 1999 dwellings – 5 pitches should be provided
  • 2000 or more dwellings – 6 pitches should be provided

(Policy H5, Local Plan Publication Draft (February 2018), pp. 106)

What does this mean in terms of York Central?

This means that for York Central, with the current plans for 2500 dwellings, 6 pitches will need to either be provided on the site or alternative land or payments will need to be planned.

My York Central will be working with York Travellers Trust and to explore how this provision can be delivered. The draft Local Plan clearly offers York Central the potential to explore how one of York’s long-standing communities can become part of what will become the city’s newest community.

Here is one vision from Violet Cannon, Director, York Travellers Trust of how gypsy and travellers could become part of the new community on York Central.



Sustainable Construction on York Central – let’s do it!

A brief report and some links from the evening

The Sustainable Construction evening – like most My York Central events – had a varied audience which included interested local residents, students, council officers plus one Passivhaus client and one Passivhaus Designer. We had three presentations, each followed by a Q&A session, and then a chance for people to list – on the basis of what they’d heard – three things they’d like to see happen on York Central. The results of this – in the form, obviously, of Post-Its, are here.

Chris Thompson from Citu talked us through their journey from conventional approach to housebuilding through their Kelham Island development in Sheffield to Leeds South Bank – a journey into high-quality, off-site-manufactured construction driven by a desire for efficiency; the best of the UK conventional construction industry is about 40% efficient in use of resources, so there are gains to be made. The South Bank development will double the size of Leeds City Centre over 20-30 years, and Citu are building around 750 homes across two phases (York Central will have between 1700-2500 homes, for comparison). In addition to being the first new homes in the city centre for about 90 years, Citu are building family homes – and also working with a local provider to build a primary school to serve this new demand. Key points are that all freehold and energy assets (PV arrays and distribution) are owned by a Community Interest Company. If this all sounds too edgy to sell, well – they had buyers camping overnight outside their sales office before it opened. Chris’ presentation is here.

Rachel Trend from Native Architects talked through the work of the practice and, importantly, their willingness to put their money (and their staff) where their mouth is – with use of natural materials in renovation of their own office (work carried out by themselves) and a number of very fine buildings for practice members and key clients. Strawbale – both loadbearing and the Modcell modular system (as used by Lilac in Leeds) featured, and Hempcrete (hand-tamped, sprayed and pre-cast), plus timber and rammed earth. Rachel made it clear that natural building materials often punch above their weight by performing better in real-world use than other more apparently-sophisticated alternatives. Her excellent presentation is here.

Phil Bixby is an architect and Passivhaus Designer based in York, and he ran through what makes a Passivhaus different, what benefits this approach to construction brings, and specifically how the Passivhaus standard makes a good launch pad to go to zero-carbon construction. Data from recent completed schemes shows how households can generate more energy than they use, and how even electric car ownership needn’t tax the grid if homes are designed for solar from the start. Phil’s presentation is here.

Take a look through the Post-Its to draw your own conclusions on people’s priorities, but there was a clear feeling that we should be bold, and create a new part of the city which used sustainable technologies – of all sorts – to create a place where anyone would want to live and work.

How can York Central be designed to work for people who have Multiple Sclerosis?

Joanne Chapman lives in York, and blogs about her experiences of being a parent and having Multiple Sclerosis. In this blog, Joanne explores what possibilities York Central might offer disabled people. This is part of a strand of My York Central work looking at how York Central can be an inclusive and accessible place where disabled people can live, work and play.

What would your home be like? How would the designs enable you to live?

My condition makes the way I live more planned. I just want my home to be easy. My main symptoms of reduced mobility, fatigue and bladder weakness have to be accommodated in the house adaptations.

For my mobility, I need to ensure that access to the front and back of the property e.g. getting in and out, access the garden as well as moving around my home is easy. In terms of what I’d be doing, I would like every room to work for me, so the adaptations and design has to assist my condition by making my home more accessible. My aids need to be discreet, so my home doesn’t look like a special home that is “aid central”. I recently went to NAIDEX, a disability conference with one of the aims to help understand how home design can assist me.

Homes on York Central could be designed to be easy to use for disabled people.

I don’t wish to think how to make my home accessible for a wheelchair but it’s a necessity. With an ageing population and individuals wanting to remain in their homes for longer and not strain services by moving out, new homes need to address accessibility, so doorways have to be wide enough for a wheelchair to easily pass, items placed at appropriate levels from a wheelchair like light switches and plugs, using technology for smart accessibility like blinds and smart door locks so accessing via a chair isn’t an issue, accessibility into and outside the home, to include your garden. Mood is also important especially as MSers have a high likelihood of depression in their lifetime. Different light levels can aid mood. This can be used effectively in different areas of the home.

I recently had a company in to provide understanding of the decisions involved before purchasing a stair lift. I spoke about the marketing material the company used which featured elderly people. I told him that I appreciate that the elderly are the target market but everything was marketed towards the elderly (photographs, language used). The biggest learning is not to assume. Not all disability is visible. If I was a designer, I would be getting a range of opinions from individuals who have a wide range of disability.

What would public spaces and social spaces be like? What would they enable you to do there?

Public spaces need to be redesigned to enable people using wheelchairs easy access, including accessible Changing Places toilets and rest places.

Public spaces like my home need to be easy. So a lot of what I’ve written for my home can be applied to public spaces. I’m disabled not because of my condition but because public spaces make me feel disabled as there are usually unfriendly. For example, I visit a local park. The entrance is blocked by a gate. I park my scooter near the gate and use my walking stick to walk in and access the park. I understand the gate prevents bikes entering the park they also restrict wheelchair, scooter and pushchair access therefore preventing many individuals from using. When my mobility gets more challenged I will be unable to visit. I choose not to use this park for its lack of accessibility and ironically it is the closest to my home. For every public place I visit, I think about my condition and how my symptoms of reduced mobility, fatigue and bladder weakness affects visiting them. Before MS, I just went out. How this affects me in York, is proper planning for best parking, places that are accessible (my husband gets me into shops, by supporting me as some York shops have steps. As an old city obviously York wasn’t designed for accessibility). I also think of somewhere to rest and use the toilet. To be honest, I now need to think like this. I also look at how accessible a place is for children too as I’m a mum. Public places often don’t have a resting spot. For example, I visited the York Balloon Festival last year. A blue badge gives you closer parking but not closer toilets and no resting place. If public places addressed this, it would be a god send (like a resting place specifically for disabled guests and families, accessed via a blue badge).

Public spaces also includes transport links. At the moment, you usually ring ahead to plan a ramp etc. You’d prefer to just turn up. The partnership with Network Rail presents many opportunities to ensure all aspects of the rail journey is accessible: from using the toilet beforehand (I highly recommend Changing Places toliets) to boarding the train.

Being a true Northern powerhouse, we have to ensure all our spaces are accessible, for all children and adults. For those who are disabled or those supporting disabled individuals like a child or if you are a carer. We need to change the current attitude.

Social places need to reflect this too. I phone ahead to reserve tables at bars and restaurants. I inform taxi drivers of my condition. Again, like an able person you wish to act spontaneously but can’t.

In York Central, I’d like all places would to be easy and spontaneous.

Where would you blog from? Are there co-working, live-work arrangements / facilities /networking opportunities that would enable you to write?

Unfortunately as public places aren’t accessible, I would write from home. They are currently no facilities/networking opportunities established for accessibility. If this was different I would have a different answer.

How would you get around? What transport options would there be? What would enable your mobility?

Getting a scooter then a wheelchair on public transport is simply a nightmare. I would struggle independently. I need charge for the scooter. There is no designated area for disabled people to rest or visit the toilet. The main toilets in the city centre have been removed. I avoid visiting the city unless it’s vital. York is bike friendly. I would love to see the city as a beacon place for accessibility. Sadly no place is easily accessible, but maybe York will lead the way?

To read more or follow Joanne on social media see:

Facebook: poorly parents

Twitter: mummywithmsjmhc


My York Central: How were the Big Ideas, Principles and Visions produced and how will they be used?

Vision Background

Over the six weeks of the Festival of York Central and York Central Exhibition at the National Railway Museum we’ve been exploring the plans and possibilities for York Central. Each week we produced Open Briefing documents. We have now drawn out and synthesized the discussions into a Vision for York Central, with a very short summary Big Ideas document, and a set of Principles of how York Central can be developed in the next stages.

This document has been drawn together from community engagement through the Festival of York Central, largely through:-

  1. Feedback through Post-Its at the exhibition, photographed/uploaded/tagged on our Flickr site.
  2. Discussion at festival events, summarised through a series of blogs and informing a set of open briefing documents which were produced on the festival themes of open space, homes work and movement.
  3. Other input via various meetings and workshops with specific groups (for example elected members, local schools, pop-ups, York Youth Council).
  4. Contributions via conversations on the doorstep, via door-knocking carried out by local councillors and support teams.

The purpose of this document

Revisiting the open briefing documents following the Festival, it was clear that while they largely captured the engagement during each of the themed weeks, there was still scope for a consolidating document which minimised duplication and built upon the links between the issues contained in the individual documents. For example the relationship between homes and movement is itself a key point and one which the two separate briefing documents doesn’t satisfactorily address. There were also over-arching principles which we wanted to give due prominence (for example sustainability) and others which – while central – hadn’t been part of the four weekly themes (for example heritage significance).

These ideas, principles and vision are not only for the York Central Partnership. Many are broader than the site and beyond the control of the Partnership. Therefore these ideas are for organisations across the city, community groups and individuals to work collaboratively to help make them happen.

Beyond Flying Cars – sustainable transport on York Central

Tuesday 10th April, 4pm – 6pm / National Railway Museum Gallery

The current emerging masterplan proposals aim to “encourage sustainable transport” and show networks for the various current modes of transport – walking, cycling, busses and cars. But how will future changes – especially those in public transport – change the way we move around cities and how do cities need to respond in order to benefit from them? In this collaboration between by York Bus Forum Chair Graham Collett and York Environment Forum Chair Phil Bixby, we asked:

  • Can we look to successful projects elsewhere and can we overcome the cry that “York is different”?
  • How far into the future is it wise to plan when future technologies are so uncertain?

Graham Collett kicked off the discussions with a few questions for the movement plan on York Central:

While it could potentially be good for Park and Ride buses, where is the proposal here for local buses? York Central is a long-term project – we should think out of the box. We should be thinking a bit more radically, it should be more than just a few buses. No other transport type seems to have been considered – apart from cars.”

With this in mind Graham talked us through a few of the more radical options – and this is accompanied below by an account of the discussion they provoked:

Light rail or tram:-

“We could start the tram in York Central and use it as a springboard to extend. People say it is too expensive, but we heard from David Rudlin about a scheme where plots for development had been sold in order to fund a tram connection.

They are putting in trams in Preston, and working on Very Light Rail (VLR) proposals in Dudley and Coventry, which are cheaper than trams. Frieburg / Grenoble (similar size cities to York have trams). Bath, Cambridge and Oxford are all discussing trams.”

Discussion on the benefits of light rail and trams:-

‘Trams are very popular. There is a strange psychological dimension, people who won’t go on buses will go on trams. You go on the tram because it is an outing. You also feel safer’

‘It feels like you are in control when you are on tram. Trams are ace’

‘We need to make public transport sufficiently attractive, people get out of their cars by choice. Trams are a way of doing this, as the experience in Nottingham shows’.

‘Not as many people will switch from cars to buses as they do to trams (although in London TFL doubled the ridership of buses while nationally it halved)’.

‘Having experienced trams Edinburgh, Sheffield – they’re great when they work, but if they break down the whole system breaks down, while buses have flexibility’. And from Prague ‘a tram broke down at least once a day, and it would paralyse the whole network”.

‘Tram routes can drive up the value of development land – sites near routes – and especially near stops – have higher value as the guaranteed transport makes them attractive.

Then we discussed the positives of buses:-

‘Tram systems might be an answer in some cases but there is an argument that buses do the job better, can go where you want them to do, and are more flexible. Once you build a tram system you’re stuck and you can only expand it’

‘Buses are flexible and routes can respond to changing circumstances and demands…. but that’s a down side too, routes get changed and individual neighbourhoods can lose services’

‘Buses could be so flexible that they could pick you up at the door. But there is the management issue, at the moment in York they are only run by profit seeking firms’.

There was a general point about perception of public transport:-

‘Public transport involves learning – people need to feel they know how to use it. Older people feel they are trapped when they give up their car. If they learn to use public transport before this happens, then they cope much better.’’

Driverless vehicles (especially buses):-

There is an example from Didcot, Oxfordshire. ‘Small and frequent buses beat large and less regular ones every time’. Driverless buses are being used in La Rochelle, where ‘…they are free to travel through pedestrian areas. The problem is keeping pedestrians safe, so therefore they’re not much faster than 5mph and therefore limited use for a public transport system’.

The discussion flagged up the human issues involved in relation to driverless vehicles:-

‘I don’t always feel safe at night on trains, so having people about is important’

‘you have to think about people in the equation, people matter still and they need to be taken into account’

‘a lot of people might not want to get on a driverless vehicle, so it’s not a way of increasing use’

‘what about disabled people? you need people around to make it accessible’

‘it is a classic example of pursuit of new technology without thinking through the human element’.

‘It is important not to think of the time staff spending supporting people as a waste of time. Could jobs be combined so people are doing other jobs but also still offering support on public transport?’.

We discussed guided buses:-

‘Guided buses are a way of avoiding congestion, as they can use the central reservation to jump the queue’

‘It is the bit between settlements where guided buses matter’

‘You can have guided lines going into town in the morning and out at night, so you only need one bus lane’

The human factor:-

There was discussion about broader issues of human experience and the (relatively) simple things that made transport work well:-

‘Buses in London are painless – use a swipe card or a contactless debit card’.

‘One ticket for everything, so there is no concern that one’s return doesn’t work on another’s service’

‘The technology really helps, you now don’t have to worry how much it’ll be because it’ll never be more that £5’

‘In York now, you can but a day or week ticket… …but you still have to plan whether you’ll get full use from it. Contactless allows that flexibility’

‘In London, bus use doubled – that was because of the oyster card, real time information, investment and increased frequency. It was about a political willingness to subsidise that service rather than give profits to private operators. The problem was deregulation:- there used to be the possibility of cross subsidizing between successful and less successful routes. But now private operated just cream off profit from successful routes and the less popular ones vanish. But:- the Buses Act gives you opportunity to manage buses locally again’.

And some fundamentals:- vehicles need to be attractive – ‘you still won’t get on a tram if it is dirty’.

We discussed the issues around cycling:-

‘I want to talk about cycling. York claims it wants to be a top cycling city and it is falling short’.

‘Cycling can solve a lot of problems. We should see cycling is one the main forms of transport’.

‘Cycling routes are often so tortuous in new developments’.

‘An agenda we struggle with at the moment is ‘shared use’ – we can’t even cycle through York because of pedestrians.  Alongside planning for all sorts of new technology, we need to find ways of respecting each other with the modes of transport we have now’.

‘Does anyone have any information about how disabled people feel about Amsterdam?’

‘Need to have workplace showers after cycling to work’.

Bringing it all together with better integration:-

Examples of integration between different forms of transport…

‘I live in Pickering and work in York. I can Park & Ride but this costs £3 and I have to walk back out from the city centre to my office, or I can drive in and park in a local residential street. So I tend to drive in’.

A taxi almost fuel efficient as a half full bus , so we need to really think about taxis, especially as new technology makes ride-sharing more possible’.

‘Who is responsible for a joined up transport policy? Who designs the system?’

‘We can use the Park and Ride as hubs for parking and cycling as well as parking and busing’

Air quality:-

‘We need to get traffic out the city centre. Congestion can drive a move from cars to other modes of transport, but congestion reduces air quality. By reducing congestion, we are also improving air quality’.

The Freiburg Vauban experience – you can have a car but it is parked in a multistorey car park and you pay the real cost of providing this. If you agree to be car-free you don’t have to pay that money. This has reduced car ownership (but there is good public transport as an alternative). We perhaps need to be more clever – not just deciding to make developments “car free”.

…and some York Central specific discussion:-

‘The site needs access but it shouldn’t be a through route or a main road’

‘If Marble Arch is open to through traffic then it will end up the same as Holgate Road and Bootham. It should be public transport only’.

‘A bus gate at Marble Arch could help the Park and Ride to get into town more quickly and leave the rest of the traffic on Water End’.

‘They seem to have planned for a multi-storey car park near the station – this is simply going to bring traffic in’.

‘Except for visitors with disability, NRM should not have its own parking’.

Possible opportunities:-

We then talked about possible opportunities to make some of the ideas happen:-

  • Yorkshire devolution financing: how might this be tapped into?
  • How do we work with elected members? It was felt that officers are always coming up with great ideas, solutions and thoughts but they get knocked back at the Cllrs level.
  • An old city with limited space, how do we understand and respect each other across different modes of transport? Maybe via a Transport For York (or a wider area) – like Transport for London, an integrated agency?
  • How can we show all the private operators that integration will be financial positive for all of them by driving up usage?