Deadline for comment on the York Central consultation is midnight on 18 February – about 2 hours away, at the time of posting this.
My response to some of the questions follows below, as emailed. In case it’s of use to anyone else wanting to comment before the deadline of midnight, who might agree with some of what’s below. Copy and paste it into an email if that would help. There’s been a lot to read and if you haven’t had time to I can understand that.
Email your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
You should get an immediate automated confirmation message confirming receipt (yes, it does say that ‘the current consultation runs between 18th January and 15th February’ – they’ve not bothered to update the message to reflect the extended deadline).
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My own somewhat rushed responses to some of the questions on the online questionnaire (emailed to email@example.com):
Question 6 – Buildings which should be retained
It’s of crucial importance that the Railway Institute buildings are retained on site. They’re well-used by so many groups, and the buildings themselves are a crucial part of York’s story.
The remaining carriageworks buildings should also be retained, in recognition of the city’s proud heritage of train building. This appears to have been completely ignored in the proposed plans, to the extent that apparently a road will run right through the former carriageworks entrance, involving, presumably, the destruction of the carriageworks canteen building. To add insult to proposed injury, the consultation’s plan of the buildings on the York Central site appears to completely ignore the existence of these buildings, denoting their site but giving no name and number, despite other buildings of little merit and no cultural or historical significance being thought worthy of inclusion in the key. Personally, as someone with family members who worked at the carriageworks, I found this quite offensive.
All the diagrams of proposed roads show that the exit road on the Holgate side will go through the former carriageworks entrance. No consultation on that, apparently. Perhaps it could at least be publicly explained why the access road couldn’t go in further to the west? Why a building that has been retained for 20 years and is on the draft Local List is to be cleared now with no discussion?
Question 12 – Queen Street bridge
Support option 1 – keep Queen St bridge
It appears that the York Central development has somehow expanded so that it now involves tinkering around with the front of the station and demolishing Queen St bridge. As the project is already enormous, I don’t see the need for any of this.
Question 19 – cycle and pedestrian routes
At one time I heard a suggestion that the tunnels under Queen Street bridge could be opened up as a cycle and pedestrian route to West Offices. That would be far more helpful and sensible? At present the space around that area is blocked in various places by fencing, for no apparent reason.
The history of this corner of the site and its connection to the existing railway station would be better appreciated if pedestrian access was enhanced by removal of this fencing and an opening up of the tunnels. Making good use of what’s there instead of removing and rebuilding.
The line of the old rail lines in to the former station is still discernible, via the line of the rail workshops (RI buildings) and then the tunnels under Queen St. Converting this line of travel to pedestrian and cycle use would be a satisfying continuation of the wider policy used outside of the city centre to convert former rail lines to cycle routes, and take us right into the heart of the city on the line of the first railway lines in. Makes absolute sense to me. Is it possible? Has it been considered? Has the public any idea of the handsome brickwork underneath Queen St bridge, in those tunnels? (I assume it’s still there, though the area is all fenced off now.)
Question 9 – Comments on the landscape principles
Any park area needs to be large enough to accommodate the planting of larger trees, oak, beech, etc, as there’s so little opportunity to do this now in the heart of the city, and we’re losing many mature trees because of disease problems and safety concerns, etc. Small rowans etc would look rather daft and out of scale next to the enormous buildings proposed for the site.
Question 10 – Do you support the creation of a new public square on the west side (the rear) of the station?
It will I fear be in shadow for most of the day from the enormous office blocks proposed, so, no, it doesn’t seem appealing.
Question 14 – public square outside NRM
– See 10, above
Question 31 – general comments
The built heritage remaining on the site should be seen as the main asset, as what remains of it is what makes this place different from other places. Without it this development will end up being one of those ‘could be anywhere’ places.
The images offered of civic spaces in other cities weren’t particularly exciting, so perhaps the York Central site should look inwards to its own special qualities rather than wanting to be the ‘King’s Cross of the North’. What’s wrong with being York and working on what we have?
Any remaining railway-related industrial heritage should be incorporated into the development rather than cleared out of the way. For many of us the city’s railway heritage is an important part of our sense of place. And particularly train-building, an important part of the city’s story, not remembered enough, considering it’s only 20 years since the carriageworks closed. The station building is rightly admired, but the railway workshops and other infrastructure around it gives it its context, and deserves more respect and understanding.
In terms of the proposed office blocks, I’m struggling to understand, as I know many other people are, why the plans suggest this. There appears to be not enough demand. If there is, perhaps this could be made clearer. The city has enough empty office blocks.
The placement is rather troubling too, as they seem to be placed to the south and west of the site, which I can see might make sense in terms of proximity to the station, but considering the effect they will have on the light levels it might be more logical to put these enormous light-blocking structures to the north of the site? Unless we want to recreate the gloomy canyon of Rougier Street.
Question 32 Yes, I’d like to be kept informed. Please add me to the mailing list.