Council set to commit to continue regenerating key part of city

Senior councillors will look at plans to press ahead with a bold transformation of one of York’s most significant city centre areas at the council’s executive meeting next Thursday – 1 October.

In light of the impact of COVID-19, the council has reviewed every aspect of the project plan and business case for the regeneration of Castle Gateway, which features world-class public space around Clifford’s Tower and Eye of York.

As reported last December, York City Council submitted plans to create a public park at the rear of the Castle Museum, a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Foss, commercial spaces for independent traders, and 106 apartments, including new council housing.

And the residential development would fund the construction of a new multi-storey car park on St George’s Field.

In a report to the Executive, it is now recommended the council commit to the key public benefits of the masterplan.

This would mean bringing forward the design of the public space around Clifford’s Tower, in order to give York the best chance of securing external funding and investment in the city.

The council would also press ahead with finding a construction partner to deliver the apartments at Castle Mills, which will help to pay for the regeneration, including the pedestrian/cycle bridge; the park at the rear of the Castle Museum; and the pedestrian/cycle crossing over the inner-ring road.

The executive will also be asked to consider delaying procuring a construction partner for the multi-storey car park until more is understood about the impact of Covid-19 on the city, particularly on long-term parking trends.

This will also allow for continued engagement and consultation over accessibility, and the development of the Local Transport Plan.

However, the report also recommends replacement parking must be made available before Castle Car Park closes.

Councillor Nigel Ayre, executive member for finance and performance, said: “We remain fully committed to the Castle Gateway scheme, which will deliver new public spaces, new cycle and walkways, space for businesses to grow, more affordable homes and car parking facilities.

“Given the challenges presented by the pandemic, it is important that we continue to review all our major projects.

“The Castle Gateway masterplan was built on extensive engagement with residents and businesses, and its key features remain more relevant today than ever.

“We are looking to put York in a position where we can secure as much investment in the city as possible, while also gaining a financial return form the Castle Mills development to reinvest in the public spaces.

“This means approaching the project differently, although we are committed to not closing Castle car park until replacement parking is available.

“Looking forward, we need to ensure we have the opportunity to keep reviewing the plans and costs regularly, in light of the changing public health needs, economic picture and impact on council budgets becomes clearer through sensible, staged decision making.”