Progress is being made to support York as a safe, thriving and accessible city centre, as a number of improvements are introduced next month.
Listening to feedback from disabled residents and local businesses - particularly those who have pavement cafe licences, has been an important consideration in these changes.
In a bid to further drive work forward on improving access across the city, work has been underway since the pandemic on developing the City Centre Access – Action Plan, with a number of actions being progressed from October.
This includes access specialists, MIMA, being appointed by the council to lead on a number of actions including the pavement café guidance review. An update report on this is proposed to be taken to an Executive meeting in November.
The specialists will also lead on reviewing seating and resting places in the city centre and preferred car parking and access routes to the city centre for disabled users as per the city centre access action plan.
Other measures include a trial, which will also start in October, to introduce temporary accessible kerb ramps, within the furniture which can be licensed as part of a pavement café area, where these are required in the city centre.
The use of the temporary ramps will then be considered through the pavement café guidance review .
In addition to this, the council has identified the need for additional dropped kerbs to be installed in locations across the city centre, including Fossgate and Low Petergate, from October. Footway improvement schemes are also set to take place on Lendal, Blake Street and Stonegate early next year, which includes installing dropped kerbs and resurfacing.
Cllr Ashley Mason, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning, said:
“We remain committed to the long-term vision of the city centre, with outdoor cafe culture playing a part in the success of our economy, but the current city centre infrastructure is not yet ready for this vision to become a reality.
“There’s more work to be done to support the promotion of a safe, thriving and accessible city centre. I look forward to discussing the best ways to get on with this work for the benefit of businesses, residents and visitors.”
Cllr Andy D’Agorne, Executive Member for Transport, said:
“Whilst progress has been made in delivering the access improvements, we are still working to accelerate further improvements in access. The proposed new local guidance on the operation of pavement cafes will be vital in addressing access issues, which we know residents and visitors are concerned about.
“I also welcome the progress of re-introducing blue badge parking at Castlegate and the appointment of access specialists. I’m looking forward to seeing the more detailed plans and proposals on the next steps in delivering the access action plan, including the trial of a shuttle bus, more seating, extra dropped kerbs, amongst other important actions. It’s key that the delivery of this work is overseen by an access specialist who will be able to help us to work through York’s historic, transport and access challenges.”
Also, from Saturday (1 October), the council will be reverting its foot street hours to the pre-covid operation times of 10.30am to 5pm. However, as per every year, the footstreets will be open until 8pm for the Christmas Market, which takes place from 17 November until 23 December.
Access restrictions in Fossgate will also revert to pre-covid times, restricting motorised vehicle access into the street between 8am and 6pm.
Loading restrictions on Castlegate will also be lifted to enable Blue Badge holders to park on double yellow lines for up to three hours, as was permitted before covid.
The temporary platforms which were constructed in Castlegate to enable hospitality venues to operate during the covid pandemic are to be removed by 30 September.
View a map of footstreets locations in York’s city centre online
The return to 5pm in the footstreets follows the decision, made by the council’s Executive in July 2022, to postpone a statutory consultation to permanently extend footstreet hours to 7pm.
The decision to postpone this consultation aims to provide the opportunity to experience pavement cafes under a revised licensing guidance, wait for more clarity from the Government on the long-term legislative framework for pavement cafes, and make further progress with the delivery of the City Centre Access – Action Plan.
The decision to reinstate Blue Badge access and parking on Castlegate was taken by the Executive in November 2021.
An update on the City Centre Access – Action Plan, was taken to Executive in July. Read the report or find out more about the meeting.