Progress on Duncombe Barracks site

Grass, paths, fencing and buildings, signs of vegetation clearance

View across the Duncombe Barracks site, 22 March 2022

Previously, a wander on the equinox brought us to the Duncombe Barracks site on Burton Stone Lane. The light was fading then, so I revisited a couple of days later.

I’ve written about this site before, in 2018, when the city council was thinking about buying the land, which it later did. A planning application was later submitted, and approved in March last year.

In recent weeks, in preparation for the housing development here, the site has been cleared of the vegetation that had grown up in recent years, as well as some of the longer-established trees and hedges on the boundaries. It’s now easier, with the clearer view from the street, to appreciate the size of the site and see how it sits in context with neighbouring buildings.

This is I think one of the most interesting development sites in York. A few reasons for this:

  • It’s going to be housing – including affordable housing, and we need more of that
  • It’s not just ‘bog-standard’ housing, but part of what is ‘arguably the UK’s most ambitious council-led housing programme in a generation’, according to an article in the Guardian
  • It’s right next to another interesting development site, the Bootham Crescent football ground
  • It’s in a popular and well-connected location, close to local amenities
  • On a personal level – I live close to this site, and have done for 25 years, so feel I know it well, and care about its future. Also it’s not far to walk to have a look at any developments taking place …

A few photos then, all taken from the front of the site, on Burton Stone Lane.

Across the front part of the site, from Burton Stone Lane

Across the front part of the site, from Burton Stone Lane

There are a few of the old barracks buildings on the site, on two of its boundaries, including a small block of houses that never looked occupied. These will all be demolished in due course.

Grassed cleared site with small buildings remaining

Duncombe Barracks site: view across from one corner to another, 22 March 2022

There’s still a Duncombe Barracks, on a smaller site, to the side of this part of the site that was sold.

The church of St Luke’s is next door, on the other side.

Brick built church through tree branches

St Luke’s church, and one corner of the barracks site

The planned development is designed to be set back on this corner.

‘the removal of the existing building allows the creation of a community garden in front of the west end of St. Luke’s Church, which directly engages the site with Burton Stone Lane and the wider community, and gives the church greater status in the street.’
(Committee report, 30 March 2021)

The adjacent Bootham Crescent football ground is now disused and demolition and development work will presumably start there soon. The top of the David Longhurst stand, at the Shipton Street end of the ground, can be seen in the distance, behind the remaining barracks buildings.

Houses in foreground, glimpse of football stands on horizon

Looking across the site to the boundary with the football ground

The red painted corrugated iron is the back of the Popular Stand.

Rough grass and paving, one tree on boundary in distance

Looking across the site, 22 March 2022

The site clearance removed a few mature trees, with some of the stumps visible on the far boundary.

When I first moved into the area 25 years ago there was a line of handsome mature trees along there. Two were felled in years past, a few were left when the council bought this part of the site. After the recent clearance work one now remains of the original line. Always sad to see trees removed, but in this particular case probably justifiable to facilitate this particular development.

This is just one site in what is seen as an ambitious building programme by City of York council. (This article gives more context and detail.) The plans for the site have received a fair amount of media coverage, including most recently Senior councillor defends building £500k homes on York council land.

Some of the housing on this site is to be sold on the open market. The Press article quotes the council’s director of economy, regeneration and housing, Tracey Carter:

“We are unapologetic in the fact that the open market sales are subsidising the quality and the volume of affordable housing that we’re able to deliver.”

This area is apparently a ‘highly sought after location’, according to estate agents, who often also mention proximity to two of the region’s leading independent schools (St Peter’s and Bootham). It’s close to many shops, and a local primary school.

It’s also not far from the city centre. And from here, the Minster is visible on the horizon.

Minster towers just visible on horizon

You can see the Minster from here …

(Whether the Minster towers will still be visible when the football ground is built on, I’m not sure.)

Apparently there were no objections to the planning application (ref 20/01902/FULM) when it was open for comment on the planning portal. Which seems highly unusual. So presumably everyone is feeling generally positive about the housing soon to be built here? Comments welcome below, dear readers. Ko-fi coffees also welcome, to power perusal of various other plans and changes, as we work our way towards the city centre. (Library lawn next …)

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  1. David Bower

    A very interesting site. As a teenager living in St Olaves Road I remember the Barracks of the seventies well. At this period there was a lot of activity there, with army lorries coming and going, along with military personnel. I believe it was at this time a TA base, and on Friday evenings TA soldiers would arrive, and load the back of the lorries with tents and supplies, leaving in convoy on weekend manoeuvres.
    As an aside, as a lifelong York City supporter I also remember in the early seventies when York had two seasons in the then second division (now Championship) entertaining teams such as Manchester United, Aston Villa and Norwich, there was much discussion on expansion of York’s Bottham Crescent ground. One plan entailed altering the configuration of the pitch through ninety degrees. The Shipton Street and Grosvenor Road terraces would become the sides of the pitch, and the ground would extend into the Barracks site, with a new stand being built. Alas City’s fortunes slipped, and nothing further came of the plans.
    Another little remembered proposal from this period was to build a railway halt immediately North of the nearby railway footbridge, to run alongside the grounds where the Hospital now stands, and Scarborough Terrace to enable away football supporters to reach the ground on matchdays avoiding traffic congestion in the adjacent streets.

  2. Leaping Lamb

    Well commented David,I too good memories of both Barrack activity’s ,and football ground,My married Sis lived in Lucas Avenue,Oft times,visited her on Saturdays for fish and chips from nearby shop ,then off down Burton lane ,fort the half time gate opening at football ground,Got to see second half for free.That was in the wartime league ,where only a North and South divisions existed mostly famous footballers ,enlisted,then co- opted to play in major teams Saw ‘em all at Bootham Crescent, happy days(sometimes)!

  3. Louise Ennis

    I agree with you Lisa that the design and sustainability-led, affordable, multi-generational housing looks just what the city and its residents need. The striking thing about the artistic impressions are the green, communal family spaces but I can’t see any cars or parking. Hoping this is similarly innovative and well thought-through and not an afterthought that ruins the site, and ‘desirable’ Bootham area with even more traffic.

  4. Helen Harrison

    Hi Lisa, thank you so much for this article. I had missed the further articles you linked to – both fascinating reads, and very useful ammo to counteract the naysayers on social media! Thank you. I’m hoping to maybe live in one of these homes one day…!

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