York in 2026: 10 ideas for the city’s future

Trees in York Central and new woods on the outskirts. Ten ways York might be different in 2026 - as contributed through the My Future York Day in My Life stories.
Trees in York Central and new woods on the outskirts. Ten ways York might be different in 2026 – as contributed through the My Future York Day in My Life stories.

All week we’ve been pulling out the key ideas from the My Future York Day in My Life stories submitted so far. The job of final blog of this week is to draw out 10 key design ideas that might be in York’s 2026 future. These are just the ideas from the first batch, we will be adding and adapting the list as more stories are submitted.

Add your visionary ideas, though writing your Day in My Life 2016 + 2026.

1. Homes to live in
2026: Affordable housing is enabled by new types of financing from self-build to co-operative house. All underpinned by legislative change to regulate buy-for-investment.
2. Trams
2026: Air pollution and congestion has been reduced through cheap, regular and reliable public transport enabling people to leave their cars at home and live further outside the city.
3. A pedestrian-priority Bishopthorpe Road
2026: Bumping into people you know and enjoying the trees and flowers is part of everyday life on Bishopthorpe Road.
4. York Central – beautiful footpaths and bike bridges
2026: Fly through the air over beautiful trees as you cycle from Acomb into town via York Central’s network of beautifully designed foot and bike bridges.
5. York Central – designed by a local collective
2026: York Central is developed through the talents and enthusiasms of a local team of architects and planners with lots of community discussion and involvement.
6. Local Food Assembly
2026: Locally grown food for everyone through a scheme which connects growers of all sizes (including allotment holders with a surplus) with local shops and restaurants. Optional 10% paid on top of the food bill to support a communal pot that reduces food costs for others. Local food deliveries enabled by bike couriers paid York’s living wage.
7. Welcoming (and taxing…) Visitors
2026: New models of tourism based on deep engagement with local histories and cultures, reciprocal cultural exchange and a 10% per night Visitor Contribution (sometimes known as a Tourist Tax). Taken together they are used to underpinning a free and life long learning ethos in the city.
8. Gender neutrality
2026: All toilets are gender neutral and no assumptions are made about anyone’s gender in York’s cafes and restaurants. York is well-served for self-organized queer and LGBTQ spaces. Local pubs are welcoming to all.
9. Networks of indoor public spaces
2026: York library network expands to create volunteer-led indoor public spaces around the city. Here you can meet up, work, collaborative, use the wifi, eat lunch, get a cheap cup of tea/coffee and debate the issues of the day (as well as keep out of the rain).
10. Trees
2026: The city is green. With beautiful planting in York Central and new woods on York’s outskirts for ecological diversity and leisure.

And one final one, which raises a crucial question – how might all these ideas be delivered? A reading of the stories submitted so far might suggest the need to combine the public sector, entrepreneurship and community and volunteer approaches.

11. A mixture of local authority led and community and volunteer-led services and spaces

2026: The ideas above are enabled through a mixture of national legislative change (to change the housing economy in York) and the local authority using its ability to draw on resources through tax and public investment combined with the energy of enterprising individuals and well-supported and nourished community-led initiatives.

My Future York plans to organize public events around these design ideas over the coming months. How have other cities managed to innovate and create livable cities? How might we ensure that the ideas generated locally get put into practice?

In the meantime we’d love to hear more and more people lend their voices and ideas to York’s future… what is your ideal day in 2026?

Come and share your ideas:
24th September, 2-4pm. My Future York stall on Bishopthorpe Road.
1st October, 2-4pm. My Future York stall on Front Street, Acomb.

Join us to make sense of all the ideas at our next Open Analysis Workshop:
19th November 2-4pm
Venue to be confirmed. Express interest via myfutureyorkresearch@gmail.com