The temporary city centre footstreets extensions in response to Covid-19 are set to continue, with improved Blue Badge parking, until September 2021.
The council’s Executive will consider proposals to keep the extra streets and evening hours, but would reopen Monk Bar to Deangate and College Green to allow more Blue Badge parking closer to the city.
The changes have allowed social distancing and helped York’s city centre to recover more strongly than most other cities in the UK, including giving many pubs and cafes the outdoor space which allows them to keep trading.
With the winter period essential to the continued recovery form the pandemic, a report to Executive recommends staying with the current arrangements but with important changes to increase accessibility.
The plans follow extensive engagement with disabled residents and advocacy groups. It revealed broad support for the increased safety of the footstreets but dissatisfaction with the arrangements put in place to replace the lost Blue Badge parking. The proposed changes include:
- Vehicle access and Blue Badge parking would return from Monk Bar to Deangate, and College Green.
- The unpopular taxi shuttle service will finish at the end of December.
- Ten Blue Badge spaces would be retained at Monk Gate Car Park, and four created at Bootham Row to add to the additional free on-street spaces at Dundas Street, Carmelite Street, St Saviourgate, Duncombe Place and the existing spaces on Piccadilly, Tower Street, Castle Car Park and all other council car parks.
- A single information point for disabled people to plan journeys.
- Explore ways to allow disabled people who use cycles as a mobility aid to use them on the footstreets.
The report also asks the Executive to consider the long-term future of the footstreets areas. This would see extensive consultation begin over:
- Blake Street, Church Street, Colliergate, Goodramgate (between Deangate and King’s Square) Castlegate, King’s Square, Lendal and St Helen’s Square becoming permanent footstreets.
- Fossgate going back to pre-COVD arrangements from September 2021, while the council continue to work with traders and residents.
The report also recommends a complete review of the city centre’s car parking and disabled access. The council will work with disabled people and advocacy groups to improve York’s accessibility, including:
- A full review of the Shopmobility offer
- A study to look at a city centre shuttle service
- identifying two car parks with gold standard disabled access, improved parking spaces and access routes in to the city centre
- a study to look at a delivery hub model for the city centre
Councillor Andy D’Agorne, deputy leader and executive member for transport, said:
We responded to government guidance in June to support re-opening of businesses and advised blue badge holders that we would consult widely on longer term arrangements.
“The extensive engagement which followed has shown us that there is a difficult balance to find. While the benefits of the footstreets are felt by many disabled residents and businesses, we understand the negative impact on others.
“We are looking for solutions which offer space for businesses to recover, protecting jobs, with improved and more varied options for Blue Badge parking.
“When we no longer need to protect the people in our city centre from coronavirus, we will have to protect the large crowds which will return from the very different threat of terrorism. It is right that we look now at the long-term footstreets arrangements as part of that protection.”
Councillor Andrew Waller, executive member for the economy and strategic planning, said:
The footstreets extensions helped to re-open the city centre in difficult times, and enabled York’s businesses to have a better summer than most UK cities.
“It has also allowed dozens more pavement café licences, many of which have helped some of our much-loved independents stay in business.
“ However, we will keep working to review and improve delivery arrangements to address the issues to access identified by businesses through the engagement process”
The Executive meeting takes place on Thursday 26 November at 5.30pm and will be broadcast live at www.york.gov.uk/webcasts .
To read the report and for details of how to register as a public speaker, go to: https://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=733&MId=12407&Ver=4