Labour Holgate Ward councillors David Heaton, Rachel Melly, and Kallum Taylor are raising awareness of the 28 day “objection period” on the current plan to close Leeman Road and urge concerned residents to make the most of their “last chance” if they want to stop it. This comes after the City of York Council (CYC) applied to the Department for Transport (DfT) for a “Stopping Up Order” to permanently close the road to allow the National Railway Museum (NRM) to extend their site and connect their two buildings across it.
As part of the DfT’s process for deciding on granting the Order there is a 28 day “objection period” for members of the public to make their concerns known. This objection period is now open, and runs until midnight on Tuesday July 7.
The Council’s bid to close the road is a key part of the overall plans to develop land between the railway station and Water End, an area known as the “York Central”, or “tear-drop”, site. These plans are led by the “York Central Partnership” (YCP) which includes both CYC and the NRM, as well as Network Rail and Homes England. The arrangements are such between these bodies that their overall plans would need reviewing if the Government do not grant the Order.
Labour Councillor Kallum Taylor lives within the Leeman Road “island” area, and was instrumental in raising a “Keep Us Connected” petition against the plans which raised over 1,600 signatures . He said: “After over two years of the community’s concerns being raised in workshops, consultations, meetings, and committees, on top of our petition, being ignored by both the NRM and CYC, this is now residents’ last chance to stop the current plans to close Leeman Road and force a re-think.”
Aside from the principle of the NRM pushing ahead without genuine community input, the plans have raised a range of strong concerns with residents and workers about the impact this will have on their access to and from the city centre. For pedestrians, wheelchair users, and cyclists, this would leave them the choice of having to travel through a longer route through the prospective development which will be a building site for many years, or instead use the pretty-but-problematic riverside route from Jubilee Terrace; which is poorly lit in the evening, too narrow even for current traffic, and regularly prone to flooding.
For car users travelling from the Leeman Road “island” area, depending on future decisions around access, they would either have access via Kingsland Terrace onto a longer “spine road” running through the new development or, much more significantly, only have access in and out of this area via Salisbury Road onto Water End.
Councillor David Heaton said: “The NRM and CYC have played a dangerous game to take it up to this critical point without committing to alternatives that would have dealt with some of the opposition they’ve had. If this leads to the Stopping Up Order getting rejected, then forcing a review of the overall York Central plans, they’ll only have themselves to blame for not listening to the community earlier on.”
The objection period was first set to take place in March, however, in response to concerns from the councillors that lockdown would suppress engagement in the process, the Government agreed with their request to postpone it. While the councillors welcomed this, they are still concerned that it’s been re-arranged too soon.
“Although some restrictions have lifted since March,” said Councillor Rachel Melly,“we know most residents are still doing the right thing, staying at home, and avoiding other people where possible. The pandemic and the safety of their loved ones is still at the forefront of people’s minds, which makes it difficult to make sure everyone who needs to know about this does so. CYC and the NRM won’t be promoting this, so we’d urge everyone to do what they can to spread the word. This is a really big deal and is a decision which will impact on thousands of people for years to come.”
Residents can object to the Stopping Up Order to close Leeman Road by emailing their reasons to the DfT on firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to them at National Transport Casework Team, Tyneside House, Skinnerburn Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, YE4 7AR. They are advised to quote the reference “NATTRAN/Y&H/S247/3854” so it is recorded properly.