In November 2021, the council’s Executive considered a number of reports that seek to shape a city centre which meets the social, economic and environmental needs of York, and its communities, and ensures we are able to protect all residents and visitors.
We’ve summarised what you have told us so far in the City Centre Access open brief, and as part of the consultation we also summarised some of the key questions that we asked to help shape future access to the city centre. Find out how to get involved in the City Centre Access consultation.
We’re placing engagement with residents, businesses and partners at the heart of the bold ambition, and our plans to deliver it.
Background to the City Centre Access consultation
We've provided information on engagement so far, which covers 3 main areas:
- the vision for the city centre
- proposals for making temporary footstreet arrangements permanent
- a strategic review of city centre access
Vision for the city centre
After continued engagement over the past 18 months, the council has produced a draft vision based on 8 key themes; view the My City Centre York Vision.
The ideas for the future of York city centre were put to residents in September 2021, with people having the chance to comment on the proposals to help us refine the vision.
A statutory consultation on proposals to make the temporary changes to York's footstreets area permanent, which would see the exemption for Blue Badge holders removed (from Blake Street, St Helen’s Square, Lendal, and Goodramgate, Church Street, King’s Square and Colliergate) has taken place and subsequently closed.
The council’s Executive will make a decision on whether temporary footstreet arrangements should become permanent, based on:
- responses to the statutory consultation
- outcomes of wider public engagement on the footstreets
- recommendations in the Strategic Review of City Centre Access
- consideration of the Equalities Impact Assessment
Hostile vehicle mitigation
One of the key considerations we have to take in to account in making any decisions on access to the city centre is government guidance and responsibilities on protecting city centres from terrorist attack.
To protect our busiest streets and squares from the types of attacks which have occurred in other cities (where vehicles have been used as a weapon), it's proposed to provide 'Hostile Vehicle Mitigation' measures and 'access controls' which will reduce the risk, by keeping the number of vehicles that are permitted in an area to an absolute minimum.
Guidance from counter terrorism experts is crucial in assessing these risks and will need to form part of any of the decisions on access to the city centre.
A strategic review of city centre access
We have spent the summer listening to your views on the future of the city centre. This has included extensive conversations about how residents, visitors, businesses and deliveries arrive in and move through the city centre.
We’re now sharing the results of those conversations, exploring some of the emerging ideas and asking some questions to help refine the plans before putting them to the council’s Executive.
Improving access to the city centre
The COVID-19 response brought a new dimension to the ongoing challenge of space and access in and around York city centre.
We reorganised the city centre to allow space for the safe reopening of the city centre and continues to offer more opportunity for outdoor trading and social distancing in the footstreets after the lifting of restrictions on 19 July 2021.
The government introduced new rules allowing pavement café licenses to support safe recovery and has since extended them. The 127 York businesses which have a licence have been able to apply for an extension until November 2022. All will be required to include a tap rail in line with Department for Transport accessibility standards.
The strategy has helped York’s economic recovery; with a relatively low infection rate coupled with better performance on numbers of people and spend – consistently around 97% of pre-COVID levels - than most other cities. The extra space has given most people confidence to return to live, work and play in the city centre.
People have space to move about safely and customers queue, drink and eat on pavements and streets which are no longer permitted to accommodate moving or stopping vehicles.
Ongoing engagement about access to York city centre
The City Centre Access consultation exercise explores all areas of accessibility within the city centre, including cycling, disability, deliveries and taxis, as well as the ongoing effects for all groups since the extension of the footstreet pedestrianisation.
We have engaged with a diverse range of York residents to help shape our accessibility plans and better understand the perspectives of our diverse city centre users. 1,076 people completed a survey advertised online and in the summer 2021 edition of the council publication Our City, delivered to every household in York.
There were over 100 attendees at facilitated workshops and insight meetings covering city centre cycling, accessible routes, deliveries, taxi and hackney carriages, and the Shopmobility service.
While city centre user engagement has been extensive, this is an ongoing conversation and the council is still eager to hear more perspectives.
We want to know what you think about six main themes:
- evening opening of the footstreets
- start time
- improving accessibility to and from the footstreets
- cycling, e-Bikes and e-Scooters and access to the city centre
- improving city centre cycle routes