'for a better York'
Traffic & Planning
20oct99a: Angie Towse: Traffic Planning Update
23aug00a: Angie Towse: Coppergate again
Traffic Calming - New traffic calming measures are to be introduced into
York after a successful consultation held between local York residents and
the City of York Council. The calming measures total £14 000 and are to
be implemented in at Slessor Road, Foxwood and Spalding Avenue, Clifton
with an aim of improving road safety in those areas.
Parking In York: New and Improved? - In an attempt to make parking in
York more efficient, the responsibility of the regulations are to be
transferred to City of York's Council's Parking Services, whereas at
present the duties are divided between the council and North Yorkshire
Police. Hopefully, as a result of this transfer, this should allow a
fuller consideration to be taken towards parking as well as liberating
Incidentally the council are currently responsible for all permitted
parking areas including on streets pay and display and the Residents'
Priority Parking Scheme.
Cutting Traffic Congestion Whilst Keeping York On The Move - The new
draft Local Transport Plan 2000 2005 introduced by the City of York
Council, proposes to transform the way we get around for the next five
years. So far: four new rail stations, three extra Park and Rides sites,
and better facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and bus passengers are
all in the pipe line in order to promote environmentally friendly travel,
pollution control and public safety.
Bridging The Gap - Construction of York's Millennium Bridge is well
underway. The work for the bridge - which will cross the River Ouse
between Hospital Fields Road in Fulford and Butcher Terrace, by Rowntree
Park - will hopefully be completed in the spring of next year.
The council is now asking for views on the proposed Coppergate
Riverside development. York.TownPlan.Org will be providing a
forum for discussion. Here is our start.
Further development of Coppergate is unlikely to improve
York's shopping portfolio but may subsequently shift
retail business away from the York City Centre. Unless the
extra cars coming in and out of Piccadilly each year
can be adequately explained, this is likely to be
at a high cost to the local and the global environment. In
short the current proposal is the wrong design in the wrong
- Retail trade and traffic growth -
Coppergate Riverside will add a further 250,000 square feet
of retail space to York, along with the provision of over
500 car-parking spaces. The Council is also planning a new
park and ride scheme at Naburn which will feed visitors into
Coppergate Riverside may provide employment and easier access to
the city and an increase in retail trade although opponents
claim that increases in retail activity in Coppergate may be
offset by a decrease in the rest of the city centre.
If overall retail trade does increase this will largely be due
to more people shopping in York city centre. Given the location
of Coppergate few of these extra visitors will come by train
and, for shopping trips, few of the extra visitors will
come by bus or park-and-ride.
The possible effects of Coppergate Riverside are these:
For an increase-in-traffic option the extra traffic is
predicted to be large: 618,101 extra shoppers in cars coming in then
out of Piccadilly each year according to the transport assessment,
commissioned by the developers, Land Secutities.
- an increase in traffic
- an increase in the amount each visitor to the city centre spends
- a decrease in retail trade in the rest of the city
This transport assessment claims that the local highway network
can readily accommodate the traffic flows related to the development
proposals. At present, during peak times, the roads leading to
Piccadilly are full. But there is capacity to get a lot more
cars in and out of the city at off-peak times. Council policy,
incidentally, only commits to reduce congestion, not overall traffic.
Its traffic targets are in terms of the peak hour flows - but
even these are being exceeded. The "all day rush hour" could
actually fit into this policy.
An increase-in-spend effect is not likely to be a great one,
except, possibly, where visitors, on average, travel from
greater distances. This may not be an environmentally sustainable
option (see below).
A decrease in retail trade in the rest of the city is a strong
The hot-spots of retail trade do move around the city centre:
Coppergate, with the Viking Centre has only been in existence for
about twenty years. In that time the retailing on the other side
of the river (eg the Co-op and Prestos) have disapeared leaving
the area with an unpleasant derelect air. Will this decline now
happen to any other areas of the city centre and would the proposed
development at Coppergate Riverside cause such a decline?
York.Townplan.Org would be happy to receive pieces on this topic.
Any advantages, will also bring with them some more undesirable
factors, such as the demise of York's heritage due to the shift
from the historic core, an increase the traffic coming in and out
of Piccadilly each year.
The Transport Assessment, commissioned by the developers,
Land Securities, claims that the local highway network can
readily accommodate the traffic flows related to the development
proposals. Yet commuters in and out of York may disagree
with these claims as the system is already inadequate for the
amount of cars now using it.
- Local air pollution -
Extra traffic will inevitably result in a further decline
in air quality. This is a definite point of concern: Air
quality indicators in Fishergate and Piccadilly have already
gone above the Government's limits. The distressing facts
about pollution have been underplayed by the Council in the
past so the cynical will assume that they will again be neglected
in the shadow of the positive aspects of the proposed
It is the residents of the Guildhall and Fishergate areas
along with long-stay visitors who are the most prone to
air pollutants. It is important to note that two primary
schools are situated along Fishergate and we have heard
that some teachers are reluctant to open windows in the
warmer weather as a result of traffic generated 'smog'. Whilst
new park and ride schemes will be created, they can have
the effect of encouraging more visitors and will do little
or nothing to reduce vehicular traffic. Given, also,
the disconcerting rumours of the measurements on the
pollution created by the park and ride buses, our crystal
ball shows a future where visitors to York City Centre
bring ever increasing levels of pollutant gasses and,
more importantly, ever increasing levels of pollutant
particles with them.
- Environmental sustainability and global pollution -
Extra traffic will also result in a the generation of
extra greenhouse gasses. For local policy makers the impact
on the climate may not be a serious concern. Other people
in other parts of the world are doing more damage. However,
we do now have international obligations which through a system
of carbon licences will turn the production of this kind of
pollution into a burden on the UK taxpayer. It may be hard to
see the connection with the development of retail schemes and
the melting of the ice caps but it may become clearer when
we are forced to buy carbon licences from other countries.
(see also "An Introduction to Green Footprints" by Pippa Langford
in the Sustainable Futures section).
- The design -
After the last plans for Coppergate Riverside were rejected
by the Council, the developers and their supporters in
the Council suggest that the design of the scheme is better
than the last scheme. But this design is a purely commercial
exercise, seemingly offering little that is new to York's present
residents. We have heard particular concern about the proposed
of "A3" licences for large parts of Coppergate Riverside.
York.Townplan.Org will look into the implications of this.
This site is one of the most important sites in Europe.
It is visited by people from all over the world, the large
majority attracted by York's heritage and historic values.
Any development here needs world class design.
The above highlights one of the concerns we have about planning
in York - the lack of a coherent masterplan for the centre
of the city. For example, consultants Roger Tym and Partners
are currently preparing a report on the "teardrop" site
behind York station, following a masterplan report by architects
Michael Aukett and Partners. Both these reports are reputed to
have striking ideas which could have an important impact on
the shape York and the flows of people accessing facilities
in York. If this is being done for the tear-drop site
why not for the city as a whole?