Scrapping new York car park ‘could add 1% to council tax’

An artist's impression of the St George's Field multi-storey car park. Image: planning documents

Council tax could rise by a further one per cent if the new multi-storey car park at St George’s Field does not go ahead, planning bosses warn.

The scheme is recommended for approval at a council meeting tomorrow afternoon – despite the project being paused by a planning committee in November, with some councillors asking if the car park is necessary.

The council wants to build the new five-storey car park, with 372 spaces, so that it can close Castle Car Park and transform it into “world class” public space.

But the planning committee called for a review of parking in the city centre and evidence that the new car park is needed.

A report by council officers says parking brings in a huge amount of money for the local authority, which goes towards services such as bin collections. Castle Car Park alone brings in about £1.2 million a year.

The report says: “Not replacing this revenue stream would have a significant impact on the ability to deliver these services or would require a council tax increase of 1% to allow a balanced budget.

“The feedback received through the pre-application consultation process was very mixed in terms of car parking – many people wanted to see the removal of city centre provision but there was also a very strong voice for retaining or increasing provision.

“A further consideration for the council in taking the decision to close Castle Car Park is that it is also a significant source of revenue (£1.2 m each year) which is used to fund public services.”

‘Necessary evil’

Castle car park. Photograph: YorkMix

It adds that data shows car parks in the area usually full or close to being full at peak times during normal years.

But at the meeting in November councillors questioned how much parking will be needed after the pandemic. They also raised fears about the impact for blue badge holders, pedestrians and cyclists.

The planning report says parking spaces in the Castle Gateway area have already been reduced in recent years, including with the closure of Castle Mills Car Park.

It argues that reducing spaces or storeys in the new car park would “mean each car parking space would cost £10,000 more due to a fewer number of spaces having to bear the cost of the foundations and substructures which are required regardless of the height of the building”.

York Civic Trust has said that it accepts the St George’s Field multi storey project as a “necessary evil” to allow the Castle Gateway scheme to progress and help the council make money while it looks to replace parking income with cash from other sources.

The planning meeting takes place tomorrow at 4.30pm. You can watch it live on the City of York Council YouTube page, and view the planning application here.