A new vision has been set out for York which would be welcoming to all, friendly – and offer a better balance between residents and tourists.
City of York Council has published the My City Centre vision following suggestions and recommendations from York’s residents and businesses.
Over 18 months, the council sought the views of residents and businesses on how the city centre can be made a better place for people to live, work and enjoy.
Now it has produced a draft vision based on eight key themes. This will be revised after more consultation and go to the executive in autumn.
Council leader Keith Aspden said: “With major regeneration projects underway and a new vision for the city centre, this is an incredibly exciting time for York.”
Here are the eight themes behind the vision. You can read the full thing here.
1. A family friendly city centre
Visiting families use the city centre more than residents. Local families said there were problems around
- ease of access
- suitable facilities
- appropriate attractions
- threatening or unwelcoming atmosphere at certain times.
To respond to this, the vision wants to create new play spaces, better family activities and covered space for families in winter. It would also tackle the night-time problems – see number 3 below.
2. Events, experiences and investment in public spaces
Events are key to York’s identity, but they “can also be disruptive at times, due to their location, and are perceived to target visitors and niche interests, with a need to target residents and create a broader appeal”.
The vision suggests these changes:
- investing in public space
- spreading events through the city
- refocus the events programme to appeal more to residents
- signposting events
- simplifying event operation and opening up to community-led events
- supporting and improving our markets.
3. An attractive city at all times
We all know the problems that can blight York city centre on weekend nights. Under the vision, this would be addressed.
“As well as strengthening the work of multi-agency safety partnerships to address this concern, we will identify specific actions through the imminent purple flag status application, and focus our city tourism messaging on positive behaviours when visiting the city,” My City Centre says.
And there are plans to make the early evening a more vibrant experience.
4. Making tourism work for York
“Without visitors to the city we would also struggle to sustain the wide variety of shops and facilities which we benefit from,” the vision says.
“Tourism does create impacts too though – the sector tends to be less well paid, and there is a sentiment in feedback that more facilities and amenities are directed to visitors than to residents.”
How do you make tourism work?
A sustainable tourism strategy would attract “visitors who would stay longer, have more cultural emphasis to their trips, enjoy the wider region, and promote the city as a family destination”.
A York gift scheme could establish a “package of voluntary measures to allow visitors to contribute financially” to the impacts they cause to the city centre.
And by improving tourism employment, people in this sector could benefit from a “set of actions to improve pay and career progression”.
5. Embracing our riversides
We don’t make the most of the Ouse and the Foss – that was the verdict of the My City Centre consultation.
Plans to make more of the riverside include
- creating the new Foss walkway and crossing as part of the Castle Gateway plan
- support the walkway project between City Screen and Ouse Bridge as part of the proposed ‘Riverside Quarter’ development on Coney Street
- plans for a pedestrian bridge over the Ouse at North Street Gardens and City Screen.
They would also look at turning the waterways into ‘river corridors for sustainable travel’ – particularly as part of the York Central development. Commute by boat!
6. A city centre which is welcoming to all
Residents want York to welcome everyone – this is the vision:
- Create a city centre where residents can live in successful and confident communities.
- Improve services, open spaces and facilities for city centre residents
- Improve accessibility through a wide range of measures including more dropped kerbs, improved surfaces and seating, and better facilities for disabled people
- Embed dementia friendly standards into public spaces
- Achieve World Health organisation charter status for age friendly city
- Create a welcoming and accepting city centre for all.
7. Thriving businesses and no empty buildings
This is a challenge, as York is affected by the major changes in business and retail that are happening worldwide.
Ideas include more temporary or ‘pop-up’ use of buildings; and a plan to make more of empty or under-used upper floors of city centre shops and other buildings.
8. Celebrating heritage and making modern history
Adapting old buildings to new uses is one of the key ideas here, although that’s quite a challenge.
There is also talk of a living heritage app “for the public to engage with the historic city around them, in real time, on their mobile devices”.