The future look of Kings Square

21 Mar 2013 @ 6.42 pm
| News
The plan for Kings Square. Click to enlarge

Issued by City of York Council

Kings Square will become easier to access for pedestrians, will include additional seating and possible cafe provision on the edge of the square and provide ample space for performers under new plans.

Cabinet will be asked to approve the preferred design (option one) at a Cabinet meeting next week (2 April), which will see approximately £490,000 (out of previously agreed funding) invested into the square from the Reinvigorate York initiative/budget.

Almost 200 people responded to a recent consultation on plans to improve and enhance one of York’s most popular city central public spaces – which will see the whole square repaved and the central raised area remodelled.

Of those who responded to the consultation 55 per cent would like to see the raised area refurbished (there were four options to remove, refurbish, no option or neither) and 44 per cent agreed that the trees located in the square should remain where they are (again, there were four options to remove, remain, no option or neither).

People were marginally in favour of not having a café (49 per cent were against and 42 per cent were for). Taking this into consideration, Cabinet will be asked to approve the plans, enabling the council to apply for planning application, but that a café license should not be implemented until the refurbished square has been in use for a long enough period to be confident that café seating can be accommodated.

During the consultation positive feedback was received from blind and partially sighted users (YBPSS campaigns group representative) assessing the design proposal from a mobility impaired pedestrian’s perspective and the York Dementia Without Walls project guidelines were also considered.

The council is also taking into account the findings of the York Access & Mobility audit produced by expert access consultancy advisors in consultation with numerous users groups.

Sir Ron Cooke, chair of Reinvigorate York, said: “The quality of York’s inner city public spaces are fundamental to sustaining the city’s present and future prosperity, and it is important to most people who live, work, visit and invest here.

“Kings Square is looking run down but becoming increasingly competitive for important activities, so we have to create more room in order to accommodate and enhance its quality and effectiveness. We’re already making significant changes and the council’s initiative provides a unique opportunity to reinvigorate the core area.”

Councillor Dave Merrett, Cabinet Member for Planning, Sustainability and Transport at City of York Council, said: “Kings Square needs quite a radical rethink to make it a world class space.

“We are going to be providing high class surfaces, addressing some of the current problems for less abled members of the community, and ensuring the tatty raised area is rebuilt with higher quality materials and is more accessible and functional for everyone to use. We will be opening the whole area up and providing more space to maximise the benefits for residents, visitors and businesses.”

Reinvigorate York will provide a lasting legacy, enhancing the public realm and supporting city centre retailers and attractions. This consultation is about getting the details right for the long term future of this important square.”

The three main objectives of Reinvigorate York remain:

  • To improve the circulation in the city centre (of pedestrians, cars, cyclists and public transport)
  • To restore and enhance the city centre’s public spaces (street furniture, signage, paving, clutter, etc)
  • To achieve other improvements that will help enhance the tourist, retail and cultural experience of visitors, residents and people working in the city centre.

Significant improvements have already been made across the inner city centre since the initiative launched with re-paving areas of the city the introduction of new benches and lanterns and the refurbishment of bollards and signs, which over the years have created unnecessary and unsightly cluttering of places like Parliament Street, Kings Square, Colliergate, and Duncombe Place/ Museum Street.

Improvements to public spaces in places like Sheffield, Newcastle and Liverpool are showing that quality of place and a rich diversity of activity in reinvigorated streets and spaces do affect personal and business location decisions. 

There is a proven economic benefit and improving the physical appearance of the city helps to improve retail and commercial opportunity and activity. Ensuring better accessibility and improving image and perception are all important to a city’s well-being.

For more details, or to read a copy of the report going to Cabinet, please go here.

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