'for a better York'

Traffic & Planning

20oct99a: Angie Towse: Traffic Planning Update

  • 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 police resources.

    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.

23aug00a: Angie Towse: Coppergate again

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.

  • 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 this development.

    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:
    1. an increase in traffic
    2. an increase in the amount each visitor to the city centre spends
    3. a decrease in retail trade in the rest of the city
    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.

    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 possibility.

    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 development.

    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.

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 place.

Coming soon...

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?

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