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Devolution and unitarisation

Local strengths

In 2018, the Sunday Times recognised York as both the best place to live in the UK and home of the best school in the North, with 3 of our schools in the top 10 of all northern schools. In 2020, we held onto our place as one of the best places to live in the North.

The Happy City Thriving Places Index notes we are one of the UK’s best places to live.

Public Health England recorded York as the most active city in the North.

The Cultural and Creative Cities monitor (and EU report) notes we are the most culturally vibrant city in the UK, and 7th in Europe for medium size cities.

On 1 December 2014, UNESCO designated York as a UNESCO City of Media Arts and the newest members of the Creative Cities Network.

In 2019, we declared a climate emergency with a commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

In support of this, we have more electric buses, created the UK’s first voluntary clean air zone and more recently, to support social distancing and rebuild back a better economy, introduced additional pedestrian areas in the city centre.

Our workforce is the most highly skilled in the region and our outstanding schools and colleges regularly achieve the highest grades at GCSE and A Level.

We're continuing our tradition of pioneering social housing that is ahead of its time, with a commitment to build 600 passive house standard houses, of which 40% will be affordable and available for rented council housing or shared ownership.

York, as a mid-sized unitary, is already well-placed to lead a strong recovery from COVID-19. We were the 12th fastest authority in distributing business grants to those who needed it most during COVID-19, and were quick to respond to support the shielded and vulnerable, recruiting volunteers and organising community hubs.

We've worked successfully as a unitary authority since 1996, acting as custodians for and representing this unique, self-governing and historic city.

With 210,000 residents, City of York Council is the median average size of unitary authority in England. With approval due of the Local Plan, the city will increase to approximately 230,000 residents.


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West Offices, Station Rise, York YO1 6GA