This is what York Central could look like as massive regeneration plan unveiled

7 Dec 2015 @ 5.38 pm
| Business, Environment, News

This is what the York Central site could become if ambitious plans to turn it into the ‘King’s Cross of the North’ are realised.

Long-neglected, this teardrop-shaped area of land behind the railway station in York’s largest brownfield site.

It’s huge potential has lain unrealised for years. But that might be about to change.

City of York Council has been working with Network Rail, the National Railway Museum and the Homes and Communities Agency to draw up the new vision for the 178 acre site.

Radical plans would see the NRM expanded, thousands of homes built, the railway station remodelled and the possible closure of Leeman Road.

The redevelopment of York Central represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver major growth in York

– council leader Chris Steward

New vision

A view of the site towards the station
A view of the site towards the station
The city’s new vision could provide up to 120,000 sq m of high-quality office space, creating up to 7,000 new jobs and up to 2,500 new homes.

The masterplan also envisages an expanded and enhanced National Railway Museum while creating a network of vibrant public squares and green spaces.

The improvements to the railway station could include the creation of a new entrance to the west of the station, facing the development site.

It could also see the transformation of the existing city-facing eastern entrance, to create a more welcoming arrival.

Also envisaged are improvements to the way that buses, cars, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians use the space, potentially including the removal of Queen Street Bridge.

Network Rail’s Stuart Kirkwood said: “We can open up this area to deliver 2,500 new homes, create 7,000 new jobs and drive economic growth for the city.”

Leeman Road to close?

The York Central site from the air. Photograph © Bing Maps
The York Central site from the air. Photograph © Bing Maps

To properly connect York Central to the city centre and neighbouring communities, it is planned to create a new foot/cycle network.

That would include a new bridge over the East Coast Mainline from within York Central; and a new road bridge from Holgate Road.

Options are also being considered to divert or close Leeman Road where it passes the NRM, to allow the museum to expand and modernise.

York council leader Chris Steward said:

The redevelopment of York Central represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver major growth in York.

This will enable us to attract high value jobs, deliver new and much needed sustainable homes and create world-class public spaces which will help define the future for our city.

We will also reduce the pressure to build on York’s Greenbelt.

But nothing will be done without asking residents first, said deputy leader Keith Aspden:

The launch of this framework is the first step in an ongoing conversation with residents over York Central, including a full public consultation in January.

We have a tremendous opportunity and we need to work hand-in-hand with local residents to get these plans right.

If we do then the redevelopment could successfully transform our local economy and provide a historic boost to our city.

The plans would see the NRM to grow to attract one million visitors a year, said Paul Kirkman, the museum’s director:

We are working on big plans to transform our museum to tell the epic story of railways, increase our contemporary relevance and grow our visitor numbers to over one million per year.

We aim to engage and inspire new and broader audiences, including schools, families, and more of York’s existing seven million visitors, with this world-changing story that continues to affect all our lives today.

The key aims of the scheme

Under plans outlined in a report to the council’s executive committee on December 15, the broad scope of the regeneration scheme are outlined.

The scheme would aim to:

create a new urban quarter for York with new homes as well as commercial and leisure developments
create a new business district with a ‘critical mass of high quality new offices’
expand the National Railway Museum and enhance the area around it
build new sports, leisure, health, education and community facilities
create ‘a distinctive new place of outstanding quality and design which complements and enhances the existing historic urban fabric of the city’
provide internet connectivity and open space
ensure the project is sustainable, including the promotion of travel by foot, cycle and public transport