The 11 problems facing York city centre – and the £100K plan to solve them

21 Aug 2019 @ 7.56 am
| Environment, Politics

York is set to invest £100K in creating a new vision for the city centre.

That is the fund for the ‘My City Centre’ engagement exercise which will see residents and businesses work with councillors on a strategy to ensure York’s prosperity.

While York’s footfall and occupancy rates remain high, these mask the growing pressures of internet shopping, economic and social changes and nationally-set business rates.

My City Centre aims to “develop a long term social, environmental and economic strategic vision for a sustainable future for York city centre”.

The challenges

A shop to let on Low Petergate. Photograph: YorkMix
A report to the council executive meeting on 29 August identifies 11 challenges facing York city centre:

  1. Conflicts between users of bars/ restaurants and the traditional family shopping centre
  2. Balancing needs of visitors and residents (types of facilities, peak visitor numbers)
  3. Servicing of commercial units (deliveries waste and refuse)
  4. Parking, accessibility and sustainable travel
  5. Condition of public realm and pedestrian areas
  6. Underuse of existing floorspace and migration of employment and residential uses away from the city centre
  7. Empty or underused upper floors of buildings
  8. Suitability of existing stock for future uses
  9. Counter terrorism measures
  10. Heritage and planning issues
  11. Climate resilience, carbon and sustainability

A report to the executive states: “My City Centre will be an open conversation with a range of stakeholders including residents, businesses, and visitors to shape a preferred strategic vision which will be taken to the council’s executive for approval.”

Better paid jobs

Cllr Andrew Waller
A My City Centre Stakeholder Group will included the York BID (Business Improvement District), York Retail Forum, Indie York, Make it York, Chamber of Commerce, Civic Trust, Hoteliers Association and more.

An external consultant “with experience in strategic visioning for city centres may also be procured to guide and sense-check the proposals as they emerge”.

Councillor Andrew Waller, executive member for economic development and strategic planning, said:

  • York’s unique heritage, cultural attractions and independent shops mean our city centre is enjoying success in what is a difficult climate for the high street across the UK.

    Whilst York is the second best high street in the country for occupancy, we are not immune to the challenges facing the high street, including how to make sure the city is secure and accessible to all, offers better paid jobs and helps people to get around sustainably.

    The My City Centre consultation will ensure that all stakeholders, from residents and retailers to owners and developers, shape this vision.

If approved, an engagement exercise following the principles of early and ongoing public involvement, pioneered on the Castle Gateway regeneration scheme, would begin in the new year.