It is time to rethink one of the biggest redevelopments in York’s history, say councillors and campaigners.
The proposed Roman Quarter scheme, which would see a museum called Eboracum, an 88-room aparthotel, plus 153 new apartments and offices built on Rougier Street, received planning permission last October.
But news that it has been placed on the market before a planning permission has been issued means that the approval should be revisited, says a leading councillor.
Before it was granted planning permission, there were serious questions about the development’s viability.
YorkMix revealed that an independent report said the scheme would make a loss of £28 million.
In response the people behind the scheme, Rougier Street Developments, said they and partners York Archaeological Trust would make it work because they were giving a 50-75 year commitment to the project.
That has changed now the whole thing is up for sale.
Labour councillor Jonny Crawshaw, who was vice chair of the October planning committee hearing, said: “The formal planning approval notice has not yet been issued meaning the scheme is not yet approved.
“Had committee members been told that the applicant planned to put the site on the market so soon after the hearing I’m not convinced they would have reached the same outcome.
“In fact, even with their demonstrably false assurances of a 50-year commitment, the committee was split down the middle with half voting in favour and half against.”
One vote in it
The application was approved by the chair’s casting vote. Several councillors who spoke in favour of the application cited the applicant’s long-term commitment to the site – and the city – as being sufficiently reassuring to overcome their concerns about the site’s viability.
Cllr Crawshaw argues the circumstances have altered so much that the application should be reconsidered, something he has been advised can be done within planning legislation.
“If there is a big enough change that, had it been know at the time of the original hearing, it might have affected the outcome, it’s possible to recall an application to committee,” he said.
“And it’s clear that the 50-year commitments made by the applicant at October’s committee hearing were worthless.
“Given this, I believe it is vital that the current process is paused and councillors are given the opportunity to consider whether they remain happy with the proposed scheme.”
York heritage campaigner Johnny Hayes also believes the council must recall the development.
“They said that they agreed that the development was not viable but they were going to take the long view and stick with the development for the next 50 years plus.
“That lasted just four months and this has thrown the future of this part of York into the unknown.”
Risk of a ‘running sore’
Mr Hayes added: “The Northern House – Rougier Street planning application is the largest proposed development in York since Victorian times.
“It is highly contentious and now there are so many unanswered questions about its future that this application needs to be brought back to committee prior to the approval being confirmed whilst there is still an opportunity to do so.
“Otherwise, there is a huge risk that this site will remain empty offices and become a running sore in the city for years to come.”
Campaigners say that the application is just one example of developers gaining approval for a scheme which they then say is not viable who then re-submit plans for something of less value to the city and its residents.
“In this case, the developers knew the scheme was not viable from the outset.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if plans are resubmitted without the Roman Museum or any community benefit whatsoever.
“Given the dramatic change in circumstances it is vital that this application is recalled to the planning committee.”
Another developer trying to pull the wool over the council and the city
Trying to off load a plot with planning permission for a higher profit but they have shot themselves in the foot by putting it up for sale before they had the planing permission in writing
Now making it essential that the council recall the application for further review as the information supplied at the original meeting was incorrect