York Central plans get the green light

Blueprints to transform one of the largest city centre brownfield city centre sites in the UK, into a vibrant residential, cultural and commercial space have been approved, marking a major milestone for York.

The outline planning application for York Central – which includes 2,500 homes, 20 per cent of which will be affordable, and a commercial quarter creating up to 6,500 jobs adding over £1.16 billion to the city’s GVA – was given the go-ahead by the council’s planning committee and is now subject to final approval by the Communities Secretary, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP.

A spokesperson for York Central Partnership said: “This is a huge moment for a project. York Central represents the biggest opportunity to transform York in generations, and the Council’s decision today marks a huge step forward in bringing much needed homes and jobs into the city.

“We now look forward to working with our partners to bring forward the first phase and getting on site to deliver real change on the ground so the people of York can benefit from York Central as soon as possible.”

The York Central Partnership (YCP) members, Homes England, Network Rail, National Railway Museum and City of York Council, have been working collaboratively for the past four years on a £155m funding package for infrastructure works to unlock the brownfield land.

Network Rail has utilised its land to enable housing and economic growth within the city. The National Railway Museum will use its £50m masterplan to enhance and expand facilities for its visitors. City of York’s Council have played a key role in providing significant funding streams to help deliver the project and fund the enabling access and infrastructure works.

As majority landowners, Homes England and Network Rail will act as master developers for the site.

The scheme, which covers 45 hectares of brownfield land, is one of the largest regeneration sites in England.  As well as enabling the expansion of the National Railway Museum, it will also improve cycling and pedestrian access; create space for new hotels, the country’s first railway park, and a new entrance to the railway station.

In addition to addressing housing challenges, York Central has been identified as the key opportunity to power York’s economy into the future. Regeneration of the site will help to provide the homes the city needs and grow its economy by 20 per cent, making it a significant contributor to the Northern Powerhouse.

Councillor Ian Gillies, Leader of City of York Council, said: “This is a massive boost for York and the whole region, and will help to make sure the city remains a fantastic place to live and work. It will deliver a range of homes the city needs, including 500 at affordable rates, and the grade A commercial space to attract a new generation of higher value employers to the city.”

Councillor Keith Aspden, Deputy Leader of City of York Council, said: “York Central has been talked about for decades, so we’re proud of the role we’ve played in the partnership which is making it happen. This development is of national significance, but we’ve got to this point because of our commitment to listen to residents and make this opportunity work for everyone in the city.”

The project will be overseen by a Strategic Board, chaired by Dame Mary Archer, Chair of the Science Museum Group to ensure delivery of the long-term vision of York Central, support the city’s economic vision, and ambitions of its people. Board members include Sir Edward Lister, Chairman of Homes England, Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail, Councillor Gillies, the Leader of City of York Council and Councillor Aspden, Deputy Leader of City.

The next stage of the application will be the submission for the first phase of infrastructure by the council in summer 2019.

Work is expected to start on site in late 2019, with the construction of housing and offices in 2020 with delivery anticipated to last for 15 years.

The outline planning application has been developed by Avison Young, Allies & Morrison, Arup, Gustafson, Porter + Bowman, Turner & Townsend, DLA Piper and Savills.