The National Railway Museum and City of York Council are coming under mounting pressure to publish a legal document which forms a critical part of plans to permanently close Leeman Road.
The ‘walkway agreement’ between the NRM and the council will dictate how people will be able to get through the museum to the station and city centre if its new central hall is built across the road.
But it has not been made publicly available for scrutiny as part of the NRM’s planning application, which is currently open for consultation – to the frustration of Holgate ward councillors and campaigners.
Chris Barrett, of York Central Action, said: “The council’s behaviour is outrageous because the NRM application refers to the proposed agreement, yet it is nowhere to be found in any papers available to the public.
“How can local people comment on something that is so important in terms of how they will access the city centre, when it is not published?”
He added: “They should publish the details now and let everyone see how bad it’s going to be. Keeping this document secret is a scandal which will only fuel the current row over restricted access.”
The government granted a controversial stopping-up order for Leeman Road to allow the NRM’s development plans to move forward last year.
During an inquiry into the order, a version of the walkways agreement was made public.
Councillors said it was “riddled with extra conditions”, including giving NRM the ability to
- Close access up to an additional ten times a year for events
- Close access on more occasions for “special visits” from high-profile guests
- Close access at any time for maintenance or repair works
- Refuse access to pedestrians walking dogs, dismounted cyclists, and certain types of wheelchairs.
Labour Cllr Kallum Taylor said: “The draft of the walkways agreement that we have seen for the route through the new building is so one-sided it’s scandalous, and makes an already controversial plan even worse for the thousands of people.
“It’s hard to see where the council have represented the interests of local residents in its drafting, so the only way this has a chance of happening is if the latest version is made public and put to the planning committee.”
Cllr Rachel Melly (Labour) added: “More people in York need to be aware of exactly what could be implemented here and have the opportunity to challenge it and make it better.”
NRM director Judith McNicol said the version of the agreement with the council made last year allowed for variations in the route, which has since been altered.
She added: “If the central hall reserved matters application is approved, we anticipate updating the walkway agreement with City of York Council and Network Rail to reflect the new route.
“From the very earliest days of our plans to transform the museum as part of the York Central development, we’ve made opportunities to listen to our visitors and to the people who live and work around the museum.”
James Gilchrist, director for planning, environment and transport, at the council said: “A variation to the walkway agreement to amend the annexed plan would need to be formally submitted to the highway authority for approval should the reserved matters application be approved and considered for decision.
“The reserved matters planning application and the pre-consultation being undertaken by the National Railways Museum, followed by the statutory consultations through the planning process, provide opportunities for local communities to comment directly on the detailed designs.
“The council is committed to ensuring that the new routes required as conditions on the stopping-up order represent an improvement on the current Leeman Road layout. It is important that safe and segregated active travel routes are provided for cyclists and pedestrians.”