Heworth Labour Councillor Bob Webb and Labour’s York Central MP Rachael Maskell have met with a local residents group to hear their views about proposed plans for the former Gas Works site on Heworth Green. They were told of serious concerns that the residents have about the current proposals for the site.
Worries include the height and scale of the planned building works, as well as their impact on the adjacent conservation area. Among concerns expressed were the increased demand on local services and infrastructure, including schools, doctors’ surgeries and roads, proximity to existing housing, and plans for a phone mast.
Cllr Webb said: “These proposals for over 700 new homes on a site earmarked for only 336 in the city’s draft Local Plan represents massive over-development of the site. York does need more homes, but these need to be for young families, they need to be affordable, and they need to be integrated with the rest of the city, not stick out like a sore thumb.
“We have to be thinking about place-making, people, and applying a bit of common-sense rather than simply making profit-led development the main priority. We have seen elsewhere in York how that turns out, with investment properties sat empty serving no useful purpose.”
The majority of the new homes are planned to be small studio and one bedroom apartments in seven storey blocks, with 450 of the homes being earmarked as rental properties owned by the developers. The overall development includes very little by way of larger family homes, and there is a major concern that at present there are no commitments to deliver affordable housing.
Sara Ma, of Hawthorne Grove Residents Group said: “While residents support the site being regenerated, the development has to be appropriate and must meet the needs of the local community. York needs family homes and not huge quantities of expensive flats piled high and targeted at investors. Heworth Gas Works is next to a conservation area and within the suburbs of York. Introducing hi-rise development in this area is completely inappropriate and totally unacceptable.”
Ms Maskell added: “This is another example of how the lack of a Local Plan is making York vulnerable to the type of development that puts extraction of profit before the needs of local people. Land is scarce and our history is very precious. The type of housing we build, where it is and what it looks like, really matters.
“We urgently need the council to step up and provide strong leadership to ensure the housing being planned actually meets local need in a way that enhances, rather than detracts from, our historic city. With this, York is going to continue to be easy prey for speculative developers, which will have serious consequences for the future of our city and our communities.