Festival of York Central

York Central is a significant brownfield development site immediately to the north of the railway station. As part of a partnership between Homes England, Network Rail, the City of York Council and the National Railway Museum, a masterplan to bring the site into use for housing and business is being developed. Recently a ‘Festival of York Central’ was held through March and April to showcase the emerging ideas and engage with the public on various topics through a number of events, including a cycle ride planned by York Cycle Campaign to look at what makes a good cycle route.

The ultimate aim of the Festival was to gather comments from the public and interest groups on the key topics of the emerging masterplan to inform further developments. York Cycle Campaign has submitted a response on the behalf of its membership against several of topics, based on conversations and discussions held on the subject:

Consultation Process

Similar to the York Castle Gateway masterplanning process, York Central has had a strong public engagement process led by My York Central; involving talks, seminars, walking tours and even a cycle ride.

York Cycle Campaign would like to commend the innovative approach to public engagement that has been taken during the Festival of York Central and the variety of events hosted by My York Central. The events and activities have provided a productive framework for discussion of the masterplan and its potential that has been appreciated by our members. The Campaign hopes to see similar approaches to engagement on major projects in the future.

Boards 11 & 12: Movement

View boards here: 11. Overarching approach & 12. Key Proposals

Proposals for allowing movement of people across the site set out to give priority to those with disabilities, pedestrians and cyclists. The proposed strategy to this includes a two-way segregated cycle route alongside the main access route that runs the length of the development, a new or improved cycle connection to the south to Holgate Road, and providing other local on-street connections away from this route.

York Cycle Campaign would like to lodge support for the broad intentions of the movement and cycling strategies for the York Central Site. The inclusion of a two-way segregated cycle path running the length of the site will create a positive addition to the existing York Cycle Network that is both safe and convenient. Elsewhere on the site, where on-street cycle ways are proposed the Campaign hopes to see that the streets are designed as Home Zones, or equivalent, to promote slow traffic speeds and reduced traffic volumes to ensure people of all ages and abilities can cycle in confidence of the safety.

In the commercial area of the site, where shared pedestrian/cycle spaces are indicated the Campaign hopes to see that those areas are detailed with sufficient space and legibility of purpose to avoid potential conflict between users. In discussion with both our members, and third-party groups, their experience has been that shared spaces work better when the space is large enough to accommodate movements of all users with suitable margin for error. These same discussions have highlighted the importance of clear and constant distinction between areas which are shared, areas only for pedestrian, and areas only for cyclists, in order to prevent confusion or disagreement over use of the spaces.

The proposals to provide additional parking around the station is welcomed as a positive step to encouraging non-polluting or traffic travel to & from the station from both the development and the city as a whole. In order to be effective the parking should be safe, secure and protected from the elements. Sufficient parking should also be provided suitable for use by the growing numbers of atypical cycles in order to ensure equality of access & use; i.e. cargo bikes/trikes, disability adapted cycles, cycles with trailers etc.

Board 13: Marble Arch/Leeman Road Tunnel

View options here

There are three options proposed in the masterplan as to how to treat the existing tunnel under the railway tracks through which Leeman Road runs, commonly known as Marble Arch. Once the site is developed, this tunnel will form a major access route into the development from people coming to and from the city centre.

With the envisaged increase in cycle and pedestrian traffic to York Central, York Cycle Campaign do not consider Option 1 (do nothing) a viable option due to the limited sub-standard width available within the tunnel.

Similarly, York Cycle Campaign does not see Option 3 as a viable or safe option due to the increase in motor traffic through the tunnel resulting from the development. Potentially slow-moving speeds of cyclists due to the rises, and lack of safe overtaking space has potential to lead to aggressive actions and ‘punishment’ passes towards cyclists. As a result Option 3 poses a barrier to equal cycle access to/from York Central for  those that are less confident or able, such as new cyclists, families cycling with children, cyclists on non-standard cycles (cargo bikes etc.), the young & elderly, or those with disabilities. At odds with emerging vision (board 9) of ‘encouraging low carbon living’ and a development that will ‘prioritise pedestrians and cyclists’.

By contrast, Option 2 is the only safe and viable option in line with the overall movement strategy of the site. The segregated cycleway provides safe access for cyclists of all abilities to and from the site without causing avoidable danger from motor traffic or conflict with pedestrians. Depending on the decisions made regarding vehicle movement through York Central) option 2 does create a potential for long tail-backs of traffic at either side of the Marble Arch (, which could be detrimental to both cyclists and pedestrians from both an air pollution and free movement perspective. Should the decision be made to allow regular traffic movement through Marble Arch, the Campaign hope to see consideration undertaken in ways to minimise and protect from resulting traffic & pollution.

Board 14: Southern Access

View options here.

It is currently possible to access the York Central area from Holgate via a bridge off Wilton Rise, however the bridge is footbridge and whilst it has wheeling ramps at the side of the steps, its steepness means it is difficult for most cyclists to access the site through this route. The masterplan puts forward five options for improving access along this route.

The current access to the York Central site from the south, via Wilton Rise, is not equally accessible to all. Despite the wheeling ramp the height of the flight of steps and the angle of incline make crossing the bridge with a cycle difficult for all but the fittest of cyclists with the least cumbersome of bikes. As a result York Cycle Campaign do not consider Option 5 (do nothing) as a viable option for access a newly developed site.

Of the remaining four options, York Cycle Campaign would expect to see any proposed new bridge crossable without the need to dismount, lift or carry a cycle, with or without a wheeling ramp, as this prevents equal access to those with
 atypical cycles such as cargo bikes/trikes, adapted/oversize cycle, cycle with trailers etc, or those which physically struggle with carrying their cycle such as those with disabilities, the elderly, children etc. This will provide much needed cycle infrastructure connecting the Holgate and Acomb areas with the city centre, which are currently only connected by the inadequate and intimidating Holgate Road/A59 or Water End routes.

The Campaign would also like to raise concern over implementation of Options 1 or 2 (new bridges accessible via Wilton Rise) without measure being taken to improve the quality of the un-adopted road surface which poses significant danger to cyclists in its current state of disrepair.

Board 15: Landscape & Environment

View landscape proposals here.

Plans for York Central’s landscaping propose creating an area with public parks and open space for a mix of uses.

Within the landscape of the development, and not limited to the Great Park, York Cycle Campaign would welcome regular cycle parking and seating encouraging opportunities to stop, linger and enjoy. The cycle parking provided should make appropriate provision for cycles that do not fit standard ‘Sheffield’ type stands and regular spacing, i.e. cargo trikes, adapted cycles, cycles with trailers etc.

Board 19: Homes

View the homes proposals here.

A significant area of the York Central site is being allocated for new homes, in a mix from individual dwellings to city apartments, which the masterplan identifies will be ‘well-connected by public transport and rail, within easy walking distance of parks and open spaces’.

In order to facilitate low-carbon living and prevent avoidable increases in traffic from population growth, York Cycle Campaign believes that a minimum standard of cycle provision in dwellings should be set, applied through planning conditions on all future housing on the site. The new residents should be able to safely and conveniently access their right up to the property by cycle, with residential areas promoting slow speeds and reduced traffic such as developing areas as home zones. Such developments will also allow children to safely cycle and play near to the home, with reduced risk from traffic.

All dwelling should have safe, secure and convenient cycle parking suitable for the number of intended occupants. The parking should be protected from the elements and accessible by being able to wheel the cycle in and out without excessive maneuvering, avoiding tight corners, narrow gaps and step. For individual dwelling houses, the area should be large enough to be accessible and adaptable to accommodate non-standard sizes cycles, such as Bakfiet type bikes, adapted disability cycles or cycles that are adapted for carrying children, an allowance that will also allow provide for storage of wheelchairs, pushchairs, mobility scooters etc as required by the resident. For dwellings with communal cycle parking, i.e. apartments, the areas should be well lit and secure against entry except to residents. An appropriate proportion of spaces should be allocated for non-standard sizes cycles and two-tier, vertical/semi-vertical racks should be avoided, or where unavoidable alternative racks which require no lifting provided for those with physical limitations. Communal cycle stores should also include an area suitable for basic maintenance of the cycle, i.e repairing inner tubes, adjusting brakes, which should be well lit and preferably provide a fixed repair station.

Visitor cycle parking should also be provided throughout the residential areas that is readily locatable and overlooked, in order to provide suitable facilities to visitors to residents who may choose to arrive by cycle.

Board 20: Working

View the workplace proposals here.

As well as homes, the masterplan proposes areas for employment especially in the south of the site, with offices, shops and restaurants envisioned.

In order to facilitate employees arriving to places of employment at York Central, and to avoid unnecessary increases in traffic coming onto the site, York Cycle Campaign believes all future workers on the site should be provided with the opportunity for safe, secure and convenient locations to leave their cycles whilst at work. The cycle storage should be easily accessible without the need to navigate steps, tight corners or narrow gaps and should make suitable provision for those with cycles that will not fit regular sized and spaced racks. Workplace cycle parking should also provide employees with fixed repair stations to allow basic repairs to be made i.e. puncture repair.

On site provision should be made for shower/change facilities for those that travel further distances to the site from the outskirts of the city or beyond, and where such facilities are not feasible due to the size of the place of employment consideration should be given for shared facilities between small units in a block.

Board 21: The Great Park

View The Great Park proposal here.

Another significant proposal for the site is the ‘Great Park’ creating a major public space through the site forming a major attraction which they hope will provide ‘excellent facilities for playspace and recreation’.

York Cycle Campaign welcome proposals to allow people cycle within the Great Park as an opportunity for ‘ambling’ cyclists or those riding for leisure purposes, in particular family groups with children, to traverse the site as in an alternative way to the free flowing segregated spine route. The Campaign hopes to see adequate space allocated to provide safe use by all users and suitable instruction of its status.

The Campaign also hopes that the landscaping of the Great Park incorporates points of interest through the route, making the it in itself a destination. Something that will encourage families, tourists and residents alike to move around and enjoy this area of York.

Board 22: The New Square

View the proposal for New Square here.

Another major landscaped area of the site will be New Square between the NRM and the station, which will function as a multi-function public space for a variety of events and other purposes.

In order to facilitate access and visiting of the New Square, it events and commercial properties, York Cycle Campaign hopes to see suitable cycle parking provision for cycles of all types that is secure and easily locatable. The quantity of cycle parking should be sufficient to allow for times of high demand, such as the proposed events & markets, and reviewed regularly to ensure that provision continues to meet demand with space pre-allocated for future expansion. Parking areas should be allocated to avoid conflict and obstruction to and from events that may be taking place within the New Square ensuring parking can remain operable at all times.

 

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