You may have arrived from Twitter to read what I originally described as a rant. The rant has been removed from this page.
Instead … the word ‘thoughtful’ is often used to describe things written for this site, and I’d rather be thinking than ranting. So for now — covering many of the same issues, connected with City of York Council and its plans and visions — I’d like to draw attention to some earlier pages on this site. Still relevant, not only relevant to the rant but to current concerns and recurring themes and things we should all perhaps be concerned about. Particularly …
The (draft) Local Plan for York
Ah … the summer of 2013, when we sat on the grass making daisy chains and reading the thousands of pages making up the draft Local Plan, after queuing for hours outside the Guildhall so we could get our hands on a copy and be the first to read it.
No, not really. But as a recent Press story shows, there was some metaphorical banging on the Guildhall doors by a citizen who works hard to make sure that the oft-mentioned ‘transparency’ is working as it should be: Ombudsman criticises York council over draft Local Plan papers. You can also follow Gwen Swinburn on Twitter. (And perhaps follow me on Twitter at the same time.)
The draft Local Plan will one day become an actual Local Plan, and it will shape future development of the city. So it will have an impact for everyone who lives and works here. So although it’s quite a boring sounding thing, and too massive for anyone to get their head around completely, here are a few thoughts I had last year about the parts of it I managed to engage with.
Ways of seeing the city: and Local Plan promotion
Connected with the above, an article promoting the council leader and the council’s Local Plan provoked some thought, and this — Ways of seeing. It’s one of the most important pieces of writing I’ve done for this site, I think.
I wondered whether the city really has improved massively and whether it really is all because of the current administration, and why everyone seemed so delighted at York being described as like a chunk of the affluent south-east. And tried to describe why people of my age often feel like we’ve lost so much of ‘our city’.
The rant originally occupying this page was partly inspired by the chaos and wasted resources of the recently ended ‘Lendal Bridge trial’. More on that soon. Meanwhile:
Back in September I wrote a piece on some of the thoughts I’d had in response to the ‘Reinvigorate York’ work in King’s Square. It questioned whose ‘aesthetic sense’ was leading these transformations, and I guess it was also about what we’ve come to call ‘engagement’, and why we often get engaged only when it’s too late and things are already being pulled up/chopped down/demolished.
I have to say that from my perspective there has been definite evidence of ‘listening’, since I wrote the above. Something the council are said never to do. The plans for King’s Square have been subtly altered to preserve a tree, for example. Elsewhere, in plans for Fossgate and Exhibition Square, it was noticeable that the plans favoured keeping much of the existing paving, rather than expensive repaving.
Well, there are bits of heritage all over this website. In fact it’s mainly about heritage, built heritage, generally the kind of buildings not part of the tourist trail. Local List buildings, with no statutory protection, landmarks in their areas. Many have been demolished, some are about to be. Burnholme WMC is boarded up and awaits demolition. City of York Council, through some clever ‘weighting’ in their weighing up of options, doomed the Airspeed building to demolition. Or so it seems at the time of writing. That annoys me more than Lendal Bridge. I wish the processes involved had been challenged as much as the Lendal Bridge trial has been.
Thankfully there are many people asking questions, encouraging engagement from as many people as possible, and trying to find ways to protect our heritage assets. I haven’t had time to write about this yet, but recommend:
— this piece in the Press by Stephen Lewis, on the same project, here focussing on the area around Clifford’s Tower
And 20mph zones? …
Another current controversy … which was briefly mentioned in the removed rant …
The people who drive too fast down my street make me swear quietly to myself. Expensive signage wouldn’t stop them, though supporters of the signage seem to think it will have magical powers to transform behaviours and improve health and probably stop wars even. To me, it just seems like more pointless signs, more money wasted, and that’s all I can say.
And who do I think I am … being so opinionated?
Just an ordinary resident. Someone who had the time to observe, and to think about some of the issues, and write about them. I don’t have the time free to do that now, but I know that many other people, like me, have become more ‘engaged’ in recent years with the plans and visions that impact on our lives in this city. I hope that continues and that it builds some bridges, and results in less of the ‘them and us’ conflict I’m seeing a lot of on Twitter and elsewhere. And that I don’t have to write any more rants.
And your thoughts?
Please fill in my survey on York and its changes, where you can also give your views on this website.