CONSULTATION: This should be as wide as possible with all key stakeholders. Local residents of adjoining communities will have views on accessibility given noise and traffic disruption during construction that will impact on their daily lives and long term on the immediate look and feel of the locality. All components that make up the development need input – experts in urban design; housing; transport; sustainability; retail for example all can draw on best practice from other developments not just in the UK but Europe. Residents throughout York should also have a say, either as individuals or as part of groups such as York Central Action Committee.
Any consultation though should be through structured relevant questions designed to assure a positive, outcome rather than being faced with thousands of open – ended disparate responses that will be hard to collate into something meaningful.
HOUSING: A key consideration due to the significance of this site in providing relief from housing shortages in York. There should be special consideration given to affordable housing, both small and intermediate, when considering the housing mix, including social housing to rent. Housing size and housing space are key considerations when making the optimal use of York Central to ensure the optimal quantity can be built without sacrificing quality of life.
EMPLOYMENT: The requirements for office provision and local job creation are vital to a balanced development. This may well be more ‘office’ than ‘laboratory’, given the land price – but it would be good to have synergy with other local employers, and opportunities for clusters of smaller businesses not just a big headline investor. Lib Dems have strong policies in our manifesto for SME’s including start up grants for entrepreneurs and a commitment to looking at lowering business rates. It would be beneficial to aim for the science, technology, research areas but also with an emphasis on training given our strong links with the rail industry and our vibrant tourism economy.
RETAIL: Any significant housing development needs a mix of relevant retail amenities and these should prioritise daily essentials rather than fashion or luxury retail, to ensure that local residents can get all essential commodities without long trips to out of town superstores that would add to traffic burden.
CULTURE: York has a worldwide cultural reputation that can be built on. We have to create a cultural destination consisting of cultural facilities; associated uses, including perhaps a hall for live performances; artists’ studios and space for creative industries and public art. These will benefit not just local residents living on the site but the wider York community to ensure a sustainable cultural economy.
SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY FACILITIES: To ensure the quality of life within this development is given key consideration, proper health and low cost or free leisure and sports provision is vital. Again, provision of facilities on the doorstep will be far more likely to be used than requiring residents to travel. Other considerations to include in any consultation should be policing facilities, community meeting spaces plus other facilities often regarded as social and community uses, such as pubs, chemists and post offices.
TRANSPORT AND ACCESSIBILITY: Given York’s high level of air pollution in areas of dense traffic such as Bootham and Gillygate – there has to be consideration given to minimising car journeys by the provision of green transport. The Liberal Democrats in coalition delivered a £900,000 grant for electric buses in York plus retrofit to convert on diesel buses. We have to maximise the number of trips by walking and cycling, with good cycle and foot access into and across the site, building on the existing cycle routes around the city and extending them to York Central. We have to upgrade current cycle routes for instance to the station via Wilton Rise, which has many disadvantages including the steps. We have to ensure excellent access to and increased capacity on public transport rather than allowing workers and residents to assume they will have to make every journey by car.
ENERGY: The costs associated with constructing sustainable buildings have dropped considerably and need to be a vital consideration in the new development. With technological advances in solar power through roof tiling rather than big unsightly solar panels it is perfectly reasonable to assume that York Central residential and business premises as well as amenities such as street lighting can be energy neutral whilst visually appealing.
ENVIRONMENTAL: York more than most cities knows what it is like to suffer from flood devastation. Any consultation and planning should take into account the effects of climate change, flood risk and water management, land contamination, waste, demolition and construction, land contamination, air pollution, noise pollution and ecology.