Transport planning in York

York Press 21/6/22

The headlines in today’s local paper suggest that the York Council is delaying a decision on its long term transport strategy until after the local elections, which are scheduled to take place next May

With the present plan covering the period up to 2030, the Council can afford to take its time. It needs to monitor how lifestyles change in the wake of the pandemic, BREXIT, international instability and industrial unrest.

We don’t yet know how the government intends to make u pits shortfall in fuel duty income as electric vehicle start to dominate the roads. If – as is widely expected – some sort of road pricing scheme is introduced, the technology deployed could also be used to vary charges to encourage off peak use of our transport infrastructure.

It is important that the different political parties offer clear choices in their local election manifestos next year. It is true that many recent transport investments in the City (including some really quite odd cycle network priorities) appear to have been driven by lobby groups,

it is vital that computer modeling data is used to support objective decision making. .

In the meantime the Council should concentrate on getting the basics right.

People aren’t going to opt to use two wheeled transport if routes are blocked by overgrowth or if cycle parking is inadequate.

Both issues can be addressed relatively cheaply.

Path obstructed. This one is in the Rawcliffe neighbourhood

City centre access row rubbles on

A report is being presented to a meeting next week which details objections which have been made to the Council proposal to ban all vehicles from the pedestrian areas between 10:30am and 7:00pm.

Last year the Council confirmed that “Blue Badge” holders would be excluded.

The Council consulted on whether any other vehicles – other than blue light services – should be able access the zone. Exemptions were suggested for “dial a ride” and refuse collection vehicles (emptying litter bins etc).

Some of the strongest objections to the plan have come from people who actually live within the pedestrian area.

They describe the traditional 5:00pm end for the foot-streets hours as barely practical while a 7:00pm finish would problematic. One quotes an incident when an emergency plumber had to be summoned to deal with a raw sewage leak.

While the aim behind the Council plan – to deter terrorist activities – is laudable, we don’t believe that the consequences have been thought through.

There are technology systems available now which would allow the allocation in real time of designated kerbside spaces for accredited blue badge and essential repair vehicles.

Access routes and timings could be authorised using an online process with enforcement by ANPR cameras

105 Walmgate

NB The Council is likely to consider a “final mile” sustainable delivery solution for the City centre at its next meeting. The proposal could involve establishing a distribution hub from which final deliveries could be made by electric vehicles, bikes and trolleys. Details here The distribution Hub would be located at 105/107 Walmgate.

High Petergate replacement lighting column

The meeting will also consider whether to repair or replace a historic lamp column that has been damaged by vehicle collision.

It is thought to be the last remaining historical cast ornate columns of this nature in York city centre possibly even the wider York area

The Minster Gates lamppost has been in place for around 120 years.

The Council’s Conservation Officer says, “

The Minster Gates lamppost is an irreplaceable historic asset as a sole surviving example of early electric street furniture. If it was made in York it has additional significance. It contributes to the character and appearance of a site of the highest heritage sensitivity. Specialist assessment has confirmed that restoration of the lamppost is possible, but it is highly specialised and hence expensive. Every effort should be made to repair the existing fabric and reinstate the lamppost because replacement with an alternative design would not preserve the heritage values of the asset.

The meeting is being recommended to authorise the repair (rather than replacement) of the lighting column at a cost of £33,000. Some – possibly not all – of the cost would be recovered from the insurance policy of the vehicle responsible for the collision. The street light would be relocated a short distance to a less vulnerable position and would be protected by a bollard.

York Castle Gateway project collapsing? Wates sacked.

It looks like the Councils plans to build flats on the Castle Mill  car park site on Piccadilly are floundering.

Castle Mills proposed development

A report to a meeting next week confirms that the  responsible contractor has been sacked following delays and cost overruns.

The Council has already spent £3.5 million on its plans for the area.

It is unclear what, if any, liabilities may arise for the Council out of a decision to terminate the contract.

The 100 apartment scheme was to have cost £28.2 million and produced a profit which would have  been used to fund a multi storey car park on St Georges Field. The car park would have replaced York most popular car park (the 327 spaces at Castle) which generates over £1 million a year in revenues for the City.

The Council still hopes to develop the Castle Mills site itself but and decision will not be taken before the summer of 2023.Any changes to car parking arrangements will also be delayed. A plan to build 52 apartments on part of the St Georges site has also been abandoned because of flooding concerns.

The position, on what might replace the Castle car park, is also mired in confusion.

The Council had hoped to fund works through government grants but this seems increasingly unlikely. York is simply viewed as being too prosperous to be regarded by the government as a high priority for “levelling up”.

The delivery of the Castle and Eye of York part of the plan will now form part of the Council’s round two Levelling Up Fund bid. The bid must be submitted by 6th July, and successful bids are expected to be announced by central government in the autumn. If successful £10 million could be injected into the project but conditions attached to any grant would spell the loss of significant numbers of car parking spaces.

The report explain how many car parking spaces will be lost but fails to include those already lost by the closure of the park at Castle Mills

Business leaders have already warned of dire consequences for the City centre economy if this happened while the Councils own financial position would be even more precarious if it lost over £1 million in parking revenues.

No updated  business plan for the project has been revealed despite the substantial change in building and materials costs. It seems unlikely that rapidly escalating building costs could be compensated for by increased sale prices.

So there is every chance that the Castle Mills site will end up in the hands of private developers who may adopt a different strategy. It is a similar gloomy picture at the nearby site at 17/21 Piccadilly (currently occupied by Sparks)

The are Council elections in May 2023 so new Councillors will end up with a major hot potato on their hands unless the Council decides to cut its losses and abandon the ill-fated scheme.

Original cost analysis and images of development at Castle Mills (

Improvements to environment for pedestrians and cyclists on Ostman Road

The Council has launched a consultation to ask local residents for their views on the proposed changes to resident, cyclist and pedestrian safety and amenity on Ostman Road.

This is specifically around the vicinity of Carr Infants and Junior Schools on Ostman Road.

Known as ‘People Streets’: Local residents and businesses will soon receive information about the proposed changes and residents from outside the local area can join the conversation via the online consultation form at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/OstmanRoadSurvey

Ostman Road is known to get congested with traffic during peak school drop-off/pick-up times, as many parents drive their children to school and park on the street.

The council is proposing some changes to the area around the main entrances to Carr Infants and Junior Schools, including improving safety and amenity for pedestrians and cyclists, and reducing the impact of traffic and on-street parking. The proposed design options aim to encourage active travel and make the environment more appealing for users.

Proposed work includes:

Tadcaster Road – more changes to layout proposed affecting cyclists, pedestrians and parking

The York Council is proposing further design changes on Tadcaster Road.

The following has appeared on a “combined authority” website (click)

Following the consultation that took place between August and September 2021, we have reviewed the feedback and we have carried out further design work. We are proposing some further changes in the vicinity of Slingsby Grove shops.
These include:
* reducing the existing number of parking spaces by two (one on either side of Tadcaster Road, north of Slingsby Grove), leaving a total of nine spaces (five on the Slingsby Grove side and four on the racecourse side).
* a new location for the pedestrian crossing, which you can view in the drawing here (opens in a new tab). This is to provide a safe place for people who park in the southbound layby, and for residents who live in the Hunters Way estate, to get to the shops, bus stop and beyond
*a stepped cycle track between The Horseshoe and Slingsby Grove (please see attached drawing here and a cross section here). The cycle way would be higher than the road but lower than the footway, and is divided by a kerb, providing some protection for people cycling from motorised traffic
*new cycle lane bollards at strategic locations along the route. These highly visible plastic bollards will clearly indicate the cycle lane, to help provide additional protection to people cycling from motorised traffic (please see attached drawing here). The cycle lanes will also be surfaced green, across the mouth of side roads, to highlight their presence to other road users
Local residents are being contacted about these further proposals via a letter – a copy of which can be found here.
We encourage anyone who lives, parks or shops in this area to look at the designs and get back to us with any feedback.
If you have any feedback on these proposals, you now have the opportunity to let us know by Monday 27 June 2022.
You can get in touch via phone on 01904 555 557 or email on tadcasterroad@york.gov.uk(External link)

To view the outcome report of the consultation that was carried out in August / September 2021, please click here.

Coppergate Centre Car Park opening hours cut

The opening hours of Coppergate Centre Car Park are changing from Saturday 14 May.

The new closing time of 7pm (from 8pm) will align with the current footstreet hours of 7pm.

After 7pm the city centre is accessible to all vehicles and parking for blue badge holders, who either use the on-street parking bays around the city centre or the car parks including Coppergate Centre while the footstreets are closed.

Other reasons for the earlier closing time are that parking officers and the Coppergate shopping centre management have highlighted that the car park gets little use after 7pm.

The Coppergate Shopping Centre closes at 5.30pm Monday to Thursday, 6pm Friday to Saturday and 5pm on Sundays. Shopmobilty, based at the car park, closes at 4pm.

James Gilchrist, Director of Transport, Environment and Planning, at City of York Council spokesperson said: “We’ve been working closely with partners to review the opening times. In doing so, we are aligning Coppergate Centre Car Park with the current footstreet times of 7pm. We also hope that the earlier closing time will help to tackle the issue of anti-social behaviour we’ve recently experienced.”

Additional CCTV has also been installed in the ground floor lobby area of the car park.

The decision to change the opening hours was made by the director officer of Transport, Environment and Planning in April,

No public notice of the proposed change was published

Hyperhub Hyperbole?

A resident wrote to the local newspaper last week complaining that the Monks Cross hyperhub EV charging station had still not been brought into use. He was trying to score political points and a swift response from the Councillor with responsibility for Transport might have been expected.

Came there none

Previously the delays in bringing the hub into use – it was to have opened last summer – had been blamed on problems with the site lease. The letter writer claimed that the Council had simply forgotten to ask for a grid connection.

It now appears that he might have a point.

It is not only Monks Cross that hasn’t opened. The facility at Poppleton Bar Park and Ride site is also still secured behind two rows of locked gates.

There is no explanation board at either site explaining the delays nor any giving the expected opening date.

The COVID testing centre at Poppleton Bar has now closed.

The Park and Ride buses have not yet returned and the site is largely empty.

There are three conventional charging points on the access road to the park and ride site. These are the charging points used by electric buses. Only one is accessible to the public

After all the hyperbole attached to the announcement of the hyperhubs, residents are owed an explanation for the delays – together with a firm opening date for each.

York Council to take power to enforce moving traffic offences

New government legislation will allow local Councils to enforce some types of moving traffic offences. Examples are banned turns, access restrictions and yellow box junctions

Lendal banned turn

Initially – following consultation – the Council says that it will pilot its powers by enforcing the no right turn restriction from Lendal.

A report says, “As part of this pilot, camera technology, lines and signing will be needed as well as resource to support”.

No details of income or expenditure on the pilot have been given

There may be some who would feel that – in the light of the new physical access restrictions being introduced in the City centre – this traffic movement will not be a serious issue requiring a major Council input.

The Council currently has no powers to enforce restrictions on pavement and verge parking The removal of unnecessary signs is promised.

the Government says “it is committed only to introduce moving traffic enforcement powers in respect of those signs listed below. Regulatory traffic signs (other than those for parking and bus lanes) that are not listed below will remain enforceable only by the police (for example, diagram 626.2A indicating structural weight limits)”

Click to view

Future of Acomb Front Street

Curate’s egg of a report finally published

click to read

Over three years after consultants were commissioned to come up with regeneration plans for the Front Street shopping area, their proposals have been published. Resident and business responses to a survey have also been publsijhed

Consultants ideas for change

10 ideas are described as “high level views” and “have not been tested for feasibility or been subject to public consultation”.

On the face of it the report fails to move the issue forward with future change dependent on successful bids for funding from a range of sources. The absence of an agreed strategy or masterplan makes the likely success of any such bids problematic.

Some of the plans are likely to be contentious particularly the proposal to move blue badge parking further away from key shopping opportunities. Several representations were made for blue badge holders to be able to access parking spaces in the pedestrian area on at least one day a week – thereby helping to counter the Council’s insensitive changes to disabled access arrangements in the City centre.

These and many other suggestions from residents have been brushed aside.

A large majority of consultees felt that the existing parking/access hours should be retained

The consultants are recommending that vehicles be banned for the access road 24/7.

Major issues like the aeras vulnerability to anti social behavior aren’t recognised much less addressed. Similarly the ongoing maintenance costs and sources of funding for features like “linear parks” is ignored.

There are some sound ideas are fighting to extricate themselves from the Middle England consultants ethos. Few would, for example ,argue that the ramp down to Morrisons is anything other than a blight on the area..

The report makes clear what the projects £37,500 revenue budget has been spent on

Expenditure on Front Street project

Most will acknowledge that there has been a modest improvement in recent years in maintenance standards. Waste storage is generally better although are still occasional problems on the lane behind the Front Street shops. Weed growth has been brought under control.

However, the – privately owned – forecourts are still uneven and the absence of any recommendation for the leveling and paving of the whole area, is one obvious omission from the report.

Just how transient some of the ideas are is revealed by a throw away comment in the report which says

It is important to note that, there is no further identified council funding for
future Christmas lights in our secondary centres
(such as Acomb) .

More on electric vehicle charging stations in York

UPDATE We understand that although access to the “hyperhub” at Monks Cross is now possible, the rapid chargers themselves are not working.

As the Rapid and Ultra Rapid charging facilities at Monks Cross are not shown as working on the “zap map” we’ve checked them out today.

In fact the gates to the “hyperhub” (and the nearby fast charging stations) are now open

As the photos show, all they lack are any customers.

The absence of users is not surprising given the lack of publicity for the service

The picture at Poppleton Bar is rather different.. The Rapid chargers there still haven’t been brought into use.

The adjacent COVID test site is currently being decommissioned, so increased vehicle movement and parking is likely in the near future.

Poppleton Bar park and ride chargers still not working. (The car parked there was not charging)

We think that the York Council needs to issue a statement indicating precisely what chargers are available and where.

They should also ask organisations like Zap to update their databases.

The forward programme of installations (the Union Terrace project has been outstanding for months) also needs to be updated