YoCo meet with Town

24th March 2020

This event held as an online session due to Coronavirus – many thanks to all who took part.  Many thanks especially to Neil Murphy, managing director of TOWN, and to Ian Gray, Project Director, for Network Rail and Homes England who are the master developers of the York Central.

Here are some notes which summarise today’s discussion. The event ran on the same format as with Chris Thompson from Citu on 21st March.

After brief introductions from everyone, Phil gave a brief update of where we are up to with the York Central Co-Owned (YoCo) proposals – starting from the My York Central big ideas and leading through a number of public events to this one here.

Ian Gray then outlined his thinking in key areas:

  • Investment models: The master developers are looking for ‘patient capital’, long-term investment. Through the procurement of partners who will view the project over a 40-50 year timescale.
  • Ownership models: are exploring leasehold models to enable this long-term investment.
  • Community-led: Too often developments ignore community-led and only give it a little leftover space at the end. The aim is to use the planning requirements set out in the outline masterplan for custom and self-build homes and to go further.
  • Timescale: Ian then briefly outlined his thinking on the early stages of the development of York Central. There would be Phase 1 Commercial (near the station) of around 300-400,000 sq ft and Phase 1 Residential (near Leeman Yard). He noted that initial phases off Leeman Road had the potential for around 400 homes, and that he was keen that this first phase “set the tone” by showing an intention to do good quality development working in partnership with the community. The aim would be for these to be advanced by the end of 2020.
  • Sustainability: Scope for a much more innovative approach going beyond the illustrative York Central masterplan.
  • Archaeology: Interested in getting a big community dig going once land near the station becomes available.

Neil Murphy introduced the work TOWN have been involved in recently:

Marmalade Lane

  • Residents: importance of residents themselves building the community they wanted. This had an impact on the wider local area, despite happening at the tail-end of the overall development. Earlier community input gives more impact.
  • Cars: Much less use of cars and need for parking than predicted, so parking space allocated has been repurposed as share space. Car shares have been set up.
  • Different models of community-led – non speculative development: Not only the scope to start with a group but for developers to form a group. This enables non-speculative housing development. In a speculative model, there is a leakage of value. There is so much risk management in speculative approaches that quality is cut unnecessarily. Bringing together development-led and community-led means you can do non-speculative development. You don’t need a ‘tribe’ in advance, you can build a ‘tribe’.
  • Pioneers to get through development period: There is going to be a 15 year period before the York Central site is finished. You need people who want to be urban pioneers involved in the early phases, building the place and the community.

Open discussion

Procurement: It is noted that an open procurement process will be needed beyond the current process. Homes England are currently reviewing DPP3 and other frameworks to have a Dynamic Purchasing System. However, the Master Developers need a process that works for both Homes England and Network Rail.

Regional Planning: Is there a danger that without better regional planning, York Central remains just a pilot. Others responded there is real power in having a very strong pilot in terms of beyond 5% custom build and community led and sustainability standards.

Building a community-led vision: Real encouragement not to assume things won’t be possible – build a vision and stick to it.

COVID-19: How do we ensure the lesson being learnt now – the different ways of living lives – can be responded to in the planning York Central?

Community Land Trusts and Leaseholds: It is useful to think what is the problem to which Community Land Trusts are the solution? There might be no benefit in a community land trust if a leasehold process was set up well with community involvement in management.

Next steps:

  • YoCo: Imelda Havers (Yorspace) to facilitate the process of developing a group and vison for the YoCo site.
  • Wider site: Phil Bixby to continue keeping in touch with other agencies – such as JRHT – with a full recognition that this might be about other sites on YC not the YoCo site.
  • My York Central: News of when this wider conversation will begin again will be shared as soon as it is confirmed by City of York Council.

 

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