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Resident and business feedback strengthens York city centre vision

Image of York Minster, this shows a busy city centre

Published Tuesday, 16 November 2021

City of York Council’s Executive will be asked to approve an exciting and bold vision for the future of York’s city centre.

The vision sets out the important role that tourism plays in the local economy, but crucially recognises that first and foremost our city centre exists to serve the needs of our residents. By focusing our vision on ensuring the city centre is in the best place it can be for our residents and communities that live here, the visitors that support the economy and sustain our shops, markets, restaurant and jobs will follow.

By creating a vibrant city centre, where a wide range of people want to spend time throughout the week, it will ensure the right conditions for our businesses to grow and adapt, for city living to develop, and for cultural and social activity to flourish.

The draft vision was developed through significant public engagement to produce an open brief, and was guided by the My City Centre stakeholder group that includes partners such as the York BID, Civic Trust, and York Retail Forum.

The council tested this draft vision with the public in September 2021 and the proposals for how it would be delivered. This included city centre play spaces and family friendly events, ensuring no empty buildings and opening up our riversides, and creating a city for modern living whilst celebrating our heritage.

The consultation received almost 1,000 responses and the headline vision received overwhelming support, with positive levels of support for all of the 39 proposed actions to realise the vision.

The responses showed:

  • 82% of people agreed (of which, 51% strongly agreed) with the vision statement for York to be "a vibrant city centre, where a wide range of people want to spend time, live and work. A place where businesses thrive, sustainable communities grow, and varied cultural and social life flourish."
  • 66% of people agreed that the vision reflects the city centre which people want York to become (just 6% disagreed)
  • all of the 39 proposed actions set out in the vision were supported by a majority of respondents, and most had very high levels of support with the average proportion supporting or strongly supporting the actions being 78%

The engagement also saw residents and businesses share lots of their ideas on how to improve the vision, and it has been updated to include:

  • creation of green space in the city centre, including publicly accessible green roofs
  • affordability for residents of parking, businesses, and city attractions
  • promote more housing in the city centre
  • support to allow businesses to operate more sustainably
  • provide further support to our flourishing independent business sectors

Councillor Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader of City of York Council, said:

Following extensive engagement with residents and businesses this vision looks to address local challenges and shape an exciting future for our fantastic city, creating a city centre that is even more welcoming, forward-looking and vibrant.

“We have had some fantastic ideas submitted which have been added to the draft vision, including around sustainability, affordability and more. We look forward to continuing to work with communities to progress this important work.”

Councillor Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning, added:

I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to share their thoughts on the future of our city centre through this engagement process. It has been informative to hear so many ideas for how we can make the city centre one where businesses can thrive, and residents enjoy to live, visit and work.

“The final vision will now guide investment and shape development and improvement projects in York city centre for decades to come. Having a clear vision that has buy in from our residents and partners will leave the council best placed to secure future government funding and private sector investment.

“The hope is that it will improve the lives of residents and businesses and ensure the city can thrive in years to come. The next steps will include drawing up an action plan with a focus on continued work with stakeholders and businesses to make this vision into reality.”

Steve Secker, Chair of York Property Forum, said:

York’s My City Centre Vision is ambitious, positive and progressive with regards to the future city’s strategic direction. It strikes a sympathetic balance between the different needs of stakeholders and residents who use our great city.

"The vision recognises the need to both evolve and conserve our buildings, and the spaces between them, in order to maintain the city's unique history and heritage, whilst also ensuring we have the ability to thrive and grow for the benefit of all.”

Andrew Lowson, Managing Director at York BID, added:

There is much here to be welcomed in the My City Centre vision. Indeed, some of the proposals echo closely the work the BID has already set out in our own business plan, including the creation of more family-friendly facilities, developing new green spaces, and the importance of the burgeoning experience economy.

“The crucial part comes next - turning this into actions. This will require strong leadership and collaboration - a key principle of placemaking, and vital for the future economic prosperity of York.”

The Executive meeting takes place on Thursday 18 November 2021. Reports, including a full summary of feedback from the consultation is available to view online. The meeting is also available to view live and on demand via webcasts. To find out more about the themes explored within My City Centre York vision, read more online.