Earlier this week I had a wander over to Holgate, via Cinder Lane. Something I’ve done fairly often. But the specific target for this particular walk was a place I don’t think I’ve been to since one visit twenty years ago — a small park, at the end of Upper St Paul’s Terrace and Cleveland Street, at the edge of the housing in Holgate.
On that day back in the mid-1990s I took a lot of photos of the railway land around here, presumably in connection with the closure of the carriageworks. The collection of prints from that film includes a few of this park/play area. I’m not sure why I took them. There are several of the graffiti on the walls, and also this one, a wider view:
Since the mid-1990s the place has changed quite a lot, as I found when I visited it this week. Part of the land has been reshaped and remodelled into a garden.
It’s now full of greenery and flowers. Planted against the wall and in raised beds in the central area.
There’s still a piece of play equipment in the middle, but it’s surrounded by a thick soft layer of wood chippings. Around it a profusion of blooms and greenery, ornamental and edible, herbs and vegetables.
I came to visit because of an email received a few days earlier from a local resident, alerting me to a campaign group and a Facebook page set up because of concerns about the future of this place.
The Edible York website includes a page on the garden, which is apparently quite new, first planted only a couple of years ago. That the future of the garden is uncertain is recognised in the text:
We had significant funding for fruit trees in place in March 2014, but have been told by the Council we are not allowed to plant any trees on the site until the planning is finalised for a proposed road and bridge that may cut through the park to create access for development of the York Central site.
The access road/bridge for the York Central development, which, as previously mentioned, looks likely to be taking a course from what was the old carriageworks entrance on Holgate Road.
I’d concentrated on the fact that a road at this location would destroy the carriageworks canteen building, and completely missed the fact that it would also involve the destruction of a local park and garden.
There’s a basketball court at the far end of the site, at the bottom of the slope. At the edge of that, behind steel fencing, the carriageworks site, and between them quite a thick belt of vegetation, including mature trees. This area isn’t accessible, but I managed to get my camera through the gaps in the fence:
All this too appears to be in the way of the access road/bridge, so would also be destroyed, I assume.
We’re told that nothing has been decided. The Press today reported on the campaigners wanting to save the park, and the response from the council:
Neil Ferris, director of city and environmental services at City of York Council, said: “no final decision has been made on site access, and detailed road designs have yet to be approved. We are working through all likely impacts of the scheme as a whole which will be informed by further community consultation and technical assessment.”
Yet plans for the access road/bridge have been reported several times in recent years, and all available information indicated that the road would run from Chancery Rise (carriageworks entrance), past the end of Cleveland Street, that is, right where I was standing to take the photo above.
When the news of a proposed access road/bridge was announced it was hailed as a breakthrough by the then council leader James Alexander, and presented as the key to unlocking the site. Comments on the Press articles about it revealed that although Cllr Alexander thought we’d all been discussing it for years, many readers were confused about the proposals, wanted clearer plans and information, and couldn’t find it. See ‘Further information’, below, for the relevant links.
The strange thing is, just a little further along Holgate Road, next to a cleared space, there’s already the beginning of a road, looking like it’s heading in towards the York Central site:
Perhaps someone else can explain why that can’t be used instead, rather than a new road/bridge which will involve the demolition of a heritage asset and the destruction of a much-loved local park. Meanwhile I’m off to sit in the park and look at some more flowers.
Campaigners fight to save York community garden and play area (Press, 18 June 2016)
The Facebook page for the campaign group can be found on this link (Facebook login may be required).
Google map – aerial view showing the location of the garden and play area (green markers) and former carriageworks canteen (blue marker)
This access road/bridge has been reported on in the Press and in Steve Galloway’s blog a fair few times in recent years, going back to 2011:
York North West development – transport arrangements published (but hidden from residents) – 30 Nov 2011. Includes mention of the proposed Chancery Rise access road/bridge
Residents will expect (and need) informed consultation with choices. There is a major possibility of confrontation with some Leeman Road/Holgate Road residents if they are not given more information quickly and in an accessible format
Cleveland Street residents raise concerns about “bridge to nowhere” – reported Steve Galloway’s blog on 30 Nov 2013.
£10m approved for York ‘teardrop’ bridge (Press, Dec 2013) – ‘Work on the first new homes could start in 2015′, it reported. ‘Coun Alexander said the access point may not be permanent, but will mean construction traffic could enter the site for the development’s opening stages’. The comments on this piece are as interesting as the story itself, and worth a read. Many people asking for a clear plan of the proposed bridge/road, for example. We’ve had the York Central consultation since, so perhaps it’s all clear now … or perhaps not.
£10m bridge giving access to “teardrop” site could be built in 2016 reported the Press, in April 2014.
An interesting document from March last year (PDF) – a land disposal notice regarding the sale of part of the Network Rail land alongside the play area and garden.
Update, September 2017
There’s a consultation on the access road running at present, it closes 13 September. For this and other recent updates on the York Central development and its impact, see this link.