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New ‘King’s Cross of the North’ plans revealed

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08 Dec 2015

The vast potential of York’s largest brownfield site has been unveiled today by City of York Council, Network Rail and the National Railway Museum (NRM), who have announced plans to consult with residents and businesses on what has been labelled as the King’s Cross of the North.

Over the past 12-months, the council has been working in collaboration with Network Rail, the NRM and the Homes and Communities Agency towards a high level masterplan of York Central – a 72 hectare site located in the heart of the city.

The city’s new vision could provide up to 1291669 sq ft of high-quality office space, creating up to 7,000 new jobs, a new residential community for up to 2,500 new homes, with opportunities to expand and enhance the National Railway Museum, make improvements to the railway station and create a network of vibrant public squares, green spaces and routes linking to surrounding neighbourhoods.

The improvements to the railway station could include the creation of a new entrance to the west of the station, facing the development site, as well as the transformation of the existing city-facing eastern entrance, to create a more welcoming arrival, and improvements to the way that buses, cars, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians use the space, potentially including the removal of Queen Street Bridge.

To properly connect York Central to the city centre and neighbouring communities, it is planned to create a new foot/cycle network, including a new bridge over the East Coast Mainline from within York Central. With an additional new vehicular access bridge from Holgate Road also in place, options are also being considered for the potential to divert or close Leeman Road where it passes the NRM, to allow the Museum to expand and modernise.

Cllr Chris Steward, Leader of City of York Council, said: “The redevelopment of York Central represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver major growth in York. This will enable us to attract high value jobs, deliver new and much needed sustainable homes and create world-class public spaces which will help define the future for our city. We will also reduce the pressure to build on York’s Greenbelt.

“At City of York Council we are committed to work with Network Rail, the National Railway Museum and the HCA to bring forward development at York Central. We believe that by collaborating we will make the right decisions and develop solutions to overcome the various challenges.”

Stuart Kirkwood, director of development at Network Rail, said: “By unlocking Network Rail owned land, we can open up this area to deliver 2,500 new homes, create 7,000 new jobs and drive economic growth for the City.”

Paul Kirkman, Director, National Railway Museum: “We are working on big plans to transform our museum to tell the epic story of railways, increase our contemporary relevance and grow our visitor numbers to over one million per year. We aim to engage and inspire new and broader audiences, including schools, families , and more of York’s existing seven million visitors , with this world-changing story that continues to affect all our lives today.

“We want to be at the heart of this exciting York Central development, which offers once in a generation opportunity to transform the museum and its surroundings. We are committed to working in partnership with City of York Council, Network Rail and the Homes and Communities Agency to make the development a success for the city and to provide an enhanced museum experience for both residents and visitors alike. We look forward to sharing our plans as part of the council’s consultation in the New Year.”

York Central was recently identified as an Enterprise Zone by the government during its Autumn Statement, thanks to a joint bid by City of York Council and the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership, which will potentially unlock over £100million to help deliver the York Central site.

Enterprise Zone status will mean that 50 per cent of business rates for the York Central site, which would have gone back to government, will be retained in the area. The council is now developing a funding strategy which will deliver upfront infrastructure to facilitate development of the site. Further details will be brought back to councillors next year. A further report will also be taken to Full Council next year to ask to agree to future expenditure against the £10m capital budget allocated to the delivery of the York Central capital budget.

Next week, councillors will be asked to approve proposals at an Executive meeting (15 December), to progress a Planning Framework for the site which will establish key principles for all development. If approved, a detailed consultation will launch in January asking for views to help guide the framework and the different options presented.

To ensure the development scheme can be delivered, Executive will also be asked to approve plans to purchase plots of land on York Central, one owned by Unipart and one by a private individual, which are essential to the development of the site. The council is working closely with Unipart to secure an alternative site in York.

Further investment has also been allocated by the HCA, which has earmarked £9.4m of equity investment in to the site (subject to final agreement of the partnership arrangements and the actual expenditure). The council is set to invest up to £250k to help fund professional advisors and the NRM are also set to invest £20k towards further development costs, which is also subject to final agreement of the partnership arrangements.

For more information about the proposals visit www.york.gov.uk/yorkcentral