There is no business case for a new £14m multi-storey car park in York and the project should be scrapped, says the council deputy leader.
Cllr Andy D’Agorne says the proposed car park to be built on the site of the existing one at St George’s Field, will cost £116,000 per extra space, “which is not acceptable in any cost-benefit terms”.
Speaking in his role as Green Group Leader, Cllr D’Agorne said it was important to support city centre businesses. “But our future vision for this cannot depend on large numbers of people arriving in private cars.”
The five-storey, 372-space car park was proposed to fill the gap created by the closure of the Castle Car Park.
It will go to make way for the Castle Gateway scheme, where the area around Clifford’s Tower will be turned into a new open space, riverside park and performance area.
Cllr D’Agorne acknowledged that the new St George’s car park has advantages, including being designed to operate on a flood plain that couldn’t be used for other purposes.
But he now says: “Whilst we believe that the new car park could have provided a feasible compromise between different concerns, our understanding is that there is not now a sound business case to justify the proposed level of investment in the multi-storey car park.
“Many people, like us, believe that in the face of the climate emergency and the need to reduce car travel in the city to meet our carbon reduction targets, using council investment to build a new car park isn’t the best way forwards.”
Under the latest calculations, building the new multi-storey – as opposed to refurbishing the existing St George’s Field – would yield as few as 120 extra spaces.
“With a price tag for the new car park of over £14m this would mean a cost of more than £116,000 per space, which is not acceptable in any cost-benefit terms.”
The money saved could go on the improvements planned under the Castle Gateway scheme.
“Many experts agree that the sort of public realm being proposed at the Castle and Eye of York is of huge benefit to the attractiveness and prosperity of city centres – worth way more in terms of supporting local businesses than 120 parking spaces!” Cllr D’Agorne said.
A decision on the associated Castle Mills development, including 106 apartments on Piccadilly, is on hold till summer.
But Cllr D’Agorne and his party believe “the question of the new car park should be settled as soon as possible, giving the opportunity for everyone to work together to develop a transitional car parking policy – making the best use of existing capacity in the city’s car parks and promoting Park & Ride and active travel to move away from reliance on the private car while supporting the prosperity of our uniquely attractive city centre”.
We reported last week that a decision over whether to go ahead with the multi-storey car park – which already has planning permission – has been postponed till summer.