Wild and Playful Streets in York Central Co-Owned

Event held at York Explore, Wednesday 12th February 2020

Nineteen of us turned up at York Explore (many thanks to Barbara Swinn for use of this excellent space – home to all sorts of creativity judging by the stuff which surrounded us) to share ideas and creative thinking about the outdoor, public bits of our proposed Co-Owned Neighbourhood. And we did it playfully.

Starting with Pictionary – we drew stuff on the tables to reflect what we’d like to see / hear / smell in the neighbourhood, and we then wrote on cards which put in words what we thought the pictures showed. We then split into groups and used these cards as tools. We spent some time thinking about less appealing stuff – what are we likely to end up with, whether we like it or not? Delivery vans, money-grabbing developers and similar stuff immediately came to mind, and was written down. We then used the cards to identify, with each issue, where we wanted to be and how we might use the good stuff to build a bridge across to this. After a lively set of discussions we came back together to talk through how those bridges would get built.

Here are the very summarised responses…

CARS:- make the place somewhere people want to be > encourage activity (jungle gyms and fun stuff) > make sure there are bikes and routes for them > FEWER CARS.

SPECULATIVE DEVELOPERS:- make gardens and bring garden love > create a bit of wildness > re-balance the private and public > cafes and the smell of baking > treehouses > DIVERSITY WHICH DOESN’T APPEAL TO SPECULATORS.

BIN LORRIES:- create secondhand swap shops > recycling and upcycling > have collective bin areas > use new, clean technologies – BIN BIKES / BIN ZEPPELINS

BIG BOX RETAIL:- ensure interesting local competition > put shops on the perimeter to reduce traffic into scheme > CREATE PEACE & QUIET IN CENTRE

SECURITY CAMERAS:- make facilities shared where possible > create camaraderie > ensure overlooking and people knowing each other > CREATE JOUISSANCE

GATED COMMUNITIES:- Crime and fear of it > natural security > mixed development and demographic so not everyone disappears during daytime > places where people naturally meet (“proper Secure by Design”) > active space and frontages with gardens > SHOPS AND COMMUNITY SPACE AT GROUND LEVEL

STORAGE AND GARAGES:- Create library of things > make it inclusive to build trust > make parking areas wild so people brush against nature > SHIFT AWAY FROM UNNECESSARY CARS

DELIVERY VEHICLES:- reduce van movements > centralised delivery spaces > REDUCE ROAD NETWORK

ROADS AND SERVICES:- bring services above ground where possible > reduce need for services (local water recycling / sustainable drainage etc) > easier for other stuff underground > HIDDEN BINS (FRENCH STYLE)

DISTRICT HEATING:- no need for gas but think about collective systems > solar panels in the best places > LOCAL ELECTRICITY NETWORK

TRAIN NOISE:- plant trees to shield visually and from noise > TREES FOR COPPICING


We then did a round of “when I go to York Central, in my suitcase I will pack…” which created a fun A-Z for our neighbourhood:-

A lot of children to make the streets busy

A BRIEFCASE full of tools

CHAIRS so I can sit outside and talk with people

A DRIVER of screws

EARS so I can hear the birdsong

A FRUIT TREE for every household

GARDEN seeds – for wildflowers

HELLO’s for the people I meet

An INTERN (well paid) to research the neighbourhood and tell others

JAMJARS so I can make use of the fruit from the trees

A KAYAK for my river commute to work

LOADS of chocolate

MUSIC of all kinds

NUMEROUS ideas to turn inequality on its head

ORANGES to make marmalade

PEACE and quiet

QUOSH for hot summer days




A spirit of UNITY

VIEWS of special things

The back-end of a FOX running off into the landscaping

Lots of YUMMY food

All of it being ZERO carbon

We finished off by agreeing on our next steps:-

  • Let’s get local children involved by working with schools in the area (St.Barnabas and Poppleton Road) to get their participation in shaping the place
  • We have an application submitted for Community Led Housing start-up finding – as soon as we hear more about this let’s think about what we can do with these resources
  • We’ve been looking at “meanwhile” use of The Gatehouse on Leeman Road – let’s pursue this and explore how we can build links with the local community and use the place to articulate ideas.