Senior councillors will look at plans to press ahead with a bold transformation of one of York’s most significant city centre areas at the council’s Executive meeting next Thursday (1 October)
In light of the impact of COVID-19, the council has reviewed every aspect of the project plan and business case for the regeneration of Castle Gateway, which features world-class public space around Clifford’s Tower and Eye of York.
In a report to the Executive, it is recommended that the council commit to the key public benefits of the masterplan. This would mean bringing forward the design of the public space around Clifford’s Tower, in order to give York the best chance of having a‘ready-to-go’ project positioned to secure external funding and investment in the city.
The council would also press ahead with finding a construction partner to deliver the apartments at Castle Mills, which will help to pay for the regeneration, including a new pedestrian/cycle bridge over the Foss; the riverside park at the rear of the Castle Museum; and the pedestrian/cycle crossing over the inner-ring road.
The Executive is also asked to consider delaying procuring a construction partner for the St George’s Field multi-storey until more is understood about the impact of Covid-19 on the city, particularly on long-term parking trends. This will also allow for continued engagement and consultation over accessibility, and the development of the Local Transport Plan. However, the report also recommends that replacement parking must be made available before Castle Car Park closes.
Councillor Nigel Ayre, executive member for finance and performance, said
“We remain fully committed to the Castle Gateway scheme, which will deliver new public spaces, new cycle and walkways, space for businesses to grow, more affordable homes and car parking facilities. Given the challenges presented by the pandemic, it is important that we continue to review all our major projects. The Castle Gateway masterplan was built on extensive engagement with residents and businesses, and its key features remain more relevant today than ever.
“We are looking to put York in a position where we can secure as much investment in the city as possible, while also gaining a financial return form the Castle Mills development to reinvest in the public spaces. This means approaching the project differently, although we are committed to not closing Castle car park until replacement parking is available.
“Looking forward, we need to ensure we have the opportunity to keep reviewing the plans and costs regularly, in light of the changing public health needs, economic picture and impact on council budgets becomes clearer through sensible, staged decision making.”
New public space at Castle Car Park
- Committing to a high quality design and achieving planning permission to create a shovel ready scheme would leave the council in the best position to secure any external funding that may become available through the government response to Covid-19.
- Securing external funding toallow the closure of Castle Car Park to be brought forward into phase one of the masterplan and inform future decisions as to how to sequence the overall delivery to aid the city’s economic recovery.
- However, any decision to close Castle Car Park and implement the new public realm would remain a future Executive decision.
Replacement car parking
- The council remain committed to providing parking to replace the closure of Castle Car Park, but it is prudent to delay the procurement of a construction partner for the new multi-storey car park at St George’s Field until next summer.
- At that stage the impact of Covid-19 on parking trends, the current city centre disabled access engagement, and the availability of more detailed data from the new pay on exit systems at council car parks will provide clarity that the current proposal remains the best solution.
- Castle Car Park will not be closed until suitable replacement parking is available.
- Similarly a future decision on whether the council should develop or dispose of 17-21 Piccadilly would also be delayed until next summer when market conditions will have become clearer.
Executive takes place on Thursday 1 October at 5:30pm and will be webcast live, or is available to watch again at: www.york.gov.uk/Webcasts.
You can view the full agenda and report papers on the council website.