Controversial plans by the National Railway Museum could prove a ‘public relations disaster’.
But there’s still time to rethink, says York Central Action – a coalition of community groups.
The NRM has submitted plans to build a new central hall across Leeman Road. Under a ‘walkway agreement’, the NRM would control the times when residents could walk through the museum to and from their homes.
This has caused widespread anger. Labour ward councillor Kallum Taylor described the walkway agreement as ” so one-sided it’s scandalous“.
Chris Barrett from York Central Action said: “The proposed alternative route is nearly double the distance and will likely feel unsafe at night.
“It’s not what you’d expect in a city that aspires to be a leader in environmentally friendly travel and is the home of Active Travel England.”
‘Make peace with residents’
Earlier this month, the planning committee deferred a decision on the NRM’s new central hall.
This gives the museum “a golden opportunity to make peace with local residents and demonstrate their commitment to working with citizens of York to improve the public access arrangements through the new building,” says York Central Action.
It has put forward four alternative access arrangements “all of which could provide public access outside of museum opening hours, and only require small changes to the current proposed design”.
Patrick Kelly from York Central Action said: “Many of us have been regular visitors to the museum in the past and support its desire to expand, but not at such a huge cost to the local community.
“The inspector at the public inquiry into the closure of Leeman Road was highly critical of the public access arrangements and we’re surprised the museum hasn’t made any alterations to take account of the issues he raised.”
The group have sent their designs to NRM director Judith McNicol and asked to meet her to discuss how public access could be improved. And they have shared their designs with council leaders and the planning committee.
We have asked the National Railway Museum for their response, and will update when we have it.