The Community Conference on 29th April went well with some 55-60 participants. There were members of the public, people from community groups and politicians. The Open Space format worked well with everyone sitting at tables discussing what they were interested in, rather than what someone else thought they should be discussing. During the conference two new groups formed, one focusing on Heritage issues and the other on Health & Wellbeing.
We are preparing a full conference report but in the meantime there is a summary below of the key points that emerged as well as the planned next steps.
- Health and wellbeing
- Jobs and training
- The public realm
Community Conference – Key Points
The Conference focused on six topics that were identified as priorities through the YCA Pop-Up consultation events held around York Central site in April. It included two sets of discussion groups on the key topics which included; Housing, Transport, Environment (air pollution & flooding), Jobs & Workspace, Education & Training and Public Land & other ideas.Delegates on the day also requested two additional discussion groups on Heritage & Health, which were then added to the final session.
York Central Action will now be writing a report and meeting with the Council to discuss, however the overarching priorities were as follows –
- Urgent need for Community Vision to underpin the development process setting out community priorities regarding jobs, transport, public health, employment & training, environmental limits & open space. Without it there is high risk York Central will feel disconnected from the city & will leave people asking “who or what is York Central for”
- High concern issues of health, heritage, environment & transport are not being sufficiently addressed – worry that the Council plan is to bolt them on as afterthoughts which could be devastating to our city. These issues must underpin the development work. It is vital that the Council addresses these issues now, before any further design work is carried out.
- Unanimous agreement that Holgate Road is a completely inappropriate location for a new access road – due to traffic congestion, pollution, loss of green space & impact on the local neighbourhood. Often presented as cheapest option, but due to congestion even value for money is queried. Would like to see the Council withdraw this option.
Other key points included:
- Environment –strong concern there has been a lack of transparency & information about the environmental impact of York Central available to the community to date. Critical that the Council & other bodies openly share information about the impact of flooding, air pollution & contamination & ensure this information is clearly presented in all future consultation materials.
- Congestion – The current transport system is already inadequate & scale of development makes more congestion inevitable. Urban Transport Strategy is needed which may include innovative solutions e.g. a new tram-train system
- Housing – must not just be seen as an investment vehicle – but about creating new homes & communities. Council must represent the interests of the community in negotiations with partners & developers, with focus on creating a sustainable, mixed community that includes families, older people and people with different incomes. As the UK’s first Human Rights City we need to make sure we are not pushing poorer people out of the city & York Central.
- Targets & scale –Aim should be to create a sustainable development of an appropriate scale – not about achieving a huge city-wide housing target on one site at any cost to the city & surrounding neighbourhoods.
- Health & wellbeing – Very high level of concern about impact of this development on the health & wellbeing of the existing community & future generations. Urgent need for more information and a clear plan setting out agreed limits, mitigation strategies & prevention measures.
- Open space & other ideas – Should also consider how alternative uses for some or all of the site that could help alleviate some of the social & environmental pressures we face as a city e.g. creation of a new park with flood management features & a city farm
- Jobs & growth –concern that focus on high end office space will not create jobs for local people. Must consider what training, upskilling and apprenticeships are needed now to make sure York people are ready to take on new opportunities. Need to ensure – possibly through quotas – that there is also space for local start-up and independent businesses.
- Procurement – Local firms & workers must benefit from the development – developer & public contracts must ensure high number of good quality local jobs and training opportunities are created.
- Heritage – heritage is absolutely vital to our city and economy. If heritage issues are not properly thought through there is a risk that the scale of this development could over-power the historical core & the experience of the city, and this could undermine our key industry. Full attention needs to be paid to the heritage on the site and the impact of any development on the wider York Area. Concern there has been insufficient heritage input. This is far too important to be an after-thought – need to use all the expertise in the city to ensure York Central is sensitive to and where possible enhances the existing city.
York Central Action Committee