Labour’s Acomb councillor Stuart Barnes has slammed plans to build on some of the only green space remaining in Acomb. Cllr Barnes has campaigned since 2015 to see the former Manor School playing fields designated as a public park. In 2016 he submitted a petition to see the area preserved as a public open space for residents, and established the group “Friends of Acomb Park” to help engage with residents and establish their views on the future of the site.
However, it was confirmed by council director Neil Ferris, during a recent eConomy and Place Policy committee meeting that the site will be built on, following a formal decision by the Lib-Dem/Tory coalition running the council. The site appears as such on teh coalition’s long term development plan for the city.
Cllr Barnes called on his fellow Acomb councillor, Conservative Keith Myers, to join him in seeking to protect the space for public use. However, his pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
“Acomb Park represents a real opportunity for my ward,” said Cllr Barnes. “So far my fellow ward councillor has been unreceptive to our efforts to create a valuable amenity space for Acomb residents. Cllr Myers’ Conservative party has voted through a long-term development for the city that has earmarked the old school playing fields as an area for housing to be built. It’s really disappointing that he seems to be more committed to towing the party line than doing the right thing for the residents of Acomb.
“I will continue to seek to persuade Cllr Myers to join me in helping to protect this space and to establish a park that local people can be proud of. It’s disappointing that he’s telling residents that he wants to see a park on the site but is then voting for plans to see the field used for housing development. Housing is desperately needed in York, but that doesn’t justify paving over green space in Acomb to support the removal of housing plans in wards represented by Lib Dem and Tory councillors. With thousands of new homes already due to be built in Acomb, it feels very unjust not to provide some decent amenity space.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Barnes also has strong words for the council’s attitude to the development plans. “Unfortunately public engagement in the ward on future plans for this site is no-existent. The council has shown on the future of sites such as York Central and the Castle Gateway area, the lengths it’s willing and should go to in listening to residents’ views, but it’s as though this council’s leadership has no interest in listening to Acomb residents both on open green space, and on the plans for huge numbers of new homes that are set to affect them.”