York Central consultation decried as ‘a joke’ – with pollution figures ‘hidden from residents’

Spokesman for the York Central Action Group, James Pitt, with York Central behind him. Photographs: Richard McDougall
12 Sep 2017 @ 7.22 pm
| Environment, News

A group of concerned residents have declared the consultation into York Central to be a ‘sham’ and ‘a joke’.

York Central Action (YCA), a coalition of community groups, parishes, businesses and educational bodies, says the current consultation on access into the development is failing.

The largest brownfield site in Europe, York Central lies to the west of the railway station.

As much as 120,000sq m of retail and office space, and as many as 2,500 homes, could be built on the site.

The current consultation – which ends on Wednesday (September 13) – is about where to position the access road into the development.

YCA has branded this consultation “a joke” – but those behind it say they have had positive feedback.

Pollution concerns

York Central, as seen from the air. Photograph: York Central Partnership

YCA has sent a letter to the official York Central Partnership pointing out why they believe the consultation on the access road is not working.

York Central

Land west of the railway station between the A19 and A59 road corridors

Land-locked site the same size as 190 Olympic-sized athletics tracks, some of it has not been used for more than 150 years

The vision is for new residential neighbourhoods, office space, leisure facilities, green space and public amenities

Read more & have your say

James Pitt, spokesman for YCA, said: “This consultation is a joke – or would be if it were not so serious.

“People have not been well informed that it is taking place. The flyer advertising it came round inside another one for pizzas!”

He said residents haven’t been given the information they need to make a reasoned judgement.

“The Partnership has information on traffic flows and pollution. Why is this being kept secret until after the consultation ends?”

Residents had repeatedly asked for full disclosure of data about the effects of traffic on health and the environment.

This has been not been forthcoming – despite, York Central Action says, the technical advisor Arup admitting “that the data exists but that it would be disclosed only after the consultation and decision made on preferred access route”.

‘Extend the consultation’

The shortlisted access road options

Another concern of the group is the length of the consultation – three weeks, including two weeks in the school summer holidays.

“Most people we have spoken to simply do not know that the consultation is happening,” they write in their letter.

YCA is asking for the consultation period to be extended and for all the relevant information to be published.

Two out of the three options for the route of the access road affect local green space – one would destroy Holgate Community Garden, another damage the Millennium Green at Leeman Road. Because of this, YCA says they should not be considered viable.

James said:

We wish to see the site developed for the benefit of the people of York, and our belief that the best way to get genuine and meaningful community buy-in is through openness and transparency on the part of the Partnership.

The current consultation is a shameful sham.

‘We strongly disagree’

An artist’s impression of how York Central could look. Photograph: York Central Partnership

Leeds PR, social media and brand communications agency Aberfield were commissioned by City of York Council to handle the York Central consultation and communication.

It issued a statment on behalf of the Partnership saying “we strongly disagree with the views expressed by James Pitt on behalf of York Central Action”.

Over 600 people attended the four consultation events and over 300 feedback forms have been received so far, with a wide range of views expressed. A significant amount of information has been shared via the consultation boards and the website and we have received positive feedback on the level of information made available and how it has been explained.

The partnership has publicised the events and appreciates the constructive community discussion the proposals have generated which has helped to draw even more people to the consultation events and website.

In total, 33,000 leaflets were distributed in the neighbourhoods immediately surrounding York Central, to promote the consultation events. In addition, adverts were taken out in the York Press from early August, as well as numerous news stories appearing about the events. Facebook advertising has also been undertaken to help target different demographics, which has reached more than 22,000 York residents.

This was further supported ahead of the consultation by a number of engagement meetings with community groups and organisations, in order to generate wider awareness and understanding of the process and the upcoming events.

We are also aware that many local political parties and some of the specific issue organisations have distributed their own leaflets promoting and encouraging people to attend the four consultation events.

The opportunity to provide feedback has been available at the events, online and by post from 23 August and remains open until 13 September.

– statement by York Central Partnership