The community difference – living in Derwenthorpe

I asked Carol Warren to tell a little about living in a neighbourhood which was designed as a community – Derwenthorpe by Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust.

I moved to Derwenthorpe on the outskirts of York with my Partner, Nick, almost a year ago. One of the most important reasons for the move was the knowledge that a thriving community already existed here and that the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust had planned the layout of the estate with both the environment and community in mind. Community was something I hadn’t properly experienced since growing up in the working class terrace houses of Poppleton Road in the 40s and 50s.

So what is a typical “community” day like in Derwenthorpe? Physically the estate, with its landscaped gardens, restricted car access, groupings of a variety of house styles and sizes, communal parking and bin areas, offers lots of shared spaces which promote casual engagement with your neighbours. The front gardens are small with no gates, so front doors seem more inviting and accessible. Ours is frequently knocked on as it used to be in Poppleton Road. People might wave at you through the large, low windows or stop to talk as you garden or sit on the bench outside your door. Cycling is promoted via cycle paths which also leads to more encounters. You bump into people much more on this estate for sure. It feels quiet and relaxed walking round the lake or indeed just round the houses. We’ve done our share of door knocking since living here and the number of people we get to meet seems to grow daily, facilitated by both these accidental encounters and more structured activities.

Today, for example, I am going to feed the cats for Katie, a lovely young woman we met in our first week, who helped us move boxes and is now running the book club that Nick has joined. After that he is going to the choir committee meeting as we’re both keen singers and joined the choir soon after moving in. Next weekend we’re both helping at the Open Gardens event, Nick by making a cake, me by manning the tea and coffee stall. Recently, when the nature group were bee-bombing the cycle path outside our window, I took them out a cup of tea and was happy to be recruited into that group. We’ve helped out at monthly coffee mornings, the children’s Christmas party, walked with a group on Boxing Day, attended the 50 Ways to Love Your Planet events, invited our other choir to sing at The Big Picnic, visited a recycling centre with the intention of reporting back to residents very soon. Most of these events are organised by the Community Activity Network which I joined very soon after we moved in, wanting to meet people and get involved as quickly as possible. In June, I volunteered to help with the distribution of Lots On, the monthly newsletter keeping everyone informed of all the upcoming events and ongoing groups. The list goes on, the wine club, litter picking, art classes, Joe’s organic veg stall, Pilates, Yoga, French circle; all on your doorstep if you want it and no problem if not.

I suppose what all this active volunteering and joining has done for me and in a very short space of time has been to give me a sense of belonging to a purposeful, good-natured, active, supportive community that weaves strong threads through doing things together. This in itself creates other opportunities to meet up in other, more social ways, dropping round to each other’s houses, going to the local library cafe, sharing information and skills, offering help, minding cats and keys.

An example of a nice and unexpected encounter a couple of weeks ago, was walking round the wider estate to show it to Nick’s son who was visiting, stopping to admire a front garden, striking up a conversation with the owner (up until then, a stranger) which ended up with her digging up and presenting me with a big clump of a flowering shrub to take home. That’s sort of how it feels here, friendly, generous with a real mix of people, retirees, young families, people with disabilities, people on low incomes. It’s not a utopia, there are problems of inclusiveness, trying to get a wider range of people involved with community building. There will always be issues between people, between people and organisations and issues with the physical space such as unfinished roads, faulty heating systems, inadequate community space. Nowhere is perfect, but this place has been built and imagined on solid principles of sustainable community living. There is a real sense that through the physical environment and the structured activities the threads will hopefully continue to grow, strengthen and cross over binding the community together for years to come and I for one feel very lucky to live here.

A visit to Citu at the Leeds Climate Innovation District

Innovative developer Citu have been collaborators on the My York Central project for some time – they took part in our Sustainable Construction – Let’s Do It! event last June, and have expressed an interest in building on York Central. Their approach is nicely set out in their website but in particular there are many aims which are aligned with the Big Ideas which came out of the public engagement process – building sustainably, and building to high standards of performance and comfort for all; providing training and employment to local people and taking a holistic approach to what they do – not simply building homes but building a piece of city.

We decided it was worth taking a look at one of their projects in the flesh, so Helen and I took a trip over to the Leeds Climate Innovation District accompanied by Imelda Havers (Bluefish Regeneration), Caroline Lewis (Clean Air York), Denise Craghill (Executive Member for Housing), Tim Moon (Community and Self-Build Housing Officer) and James Newton (Yorspace). We were met by Citu Director Chris Thompson, and given a guided tour of Citu’s factory and their development site on the riverside – where they will be building around 800 homes over about seven years – accompanied by a primary school and care home. They’ve also thrown in a bridge…

…not because it was a planning requirement, but because they thought it was a good thing to do – to provide better walking links within their new community, and to local communities beyond.

This hints at their approach – they’re not a standard housebuilder. They have based their whole enterprise on a wish to create a move towards low-carbon cities, and have brought to this approaches from the motor manufacturing industries and elsewhere. This includes manufacturing timber frames for their homes in a factory on the site – a very lean operation where feedback enables them to test and refine practices in an ongoing process of change. Not without challenges though – the production lines in the factory work on a timescale of seconds, while the more-traditional site works in increments of weeks. When the two come together it isn’t always pretty, but is a constant spur for change.

The company employs about 20 apprentices on site – most come from a traditional construction background but are destined for a more multi-skilled workplace, something which is still at odds with CITB training practices. Management staff are largely from outside the construction industry, and very much focussed on process – the “how” to the final built product’s “what”. Timber frame manufacture is gearing up for a 300% increase in the next six months.

The site spans the River Aire, with Phase One currently underway on the north bank, arranged in long terraces which respond to the waterfront location. Every square inch of the site serves more than one function – homes are stacked on a deck above well-concealed parking, and riverside fire engine access road is constructed from grass in a plastic mesh so it can also be used by local children for play and as an informal access to riverside sitting areas. Even the bridge serves multiple purposes – accommodating the local heat network’s bulky piping across the Aire. As a result, higher densities allow them to profitably tackle a “difficult” site which would be ignored by most developers.

The timber-framed homes are very contemporary in feel – claddings are applied direct to the frame (no brick skin disguises here) and are built to high environmental standards. Design and construction is done to Passivhaus standard (the PHPP design tool is used throughout and every house has, and passes, two airtightness tests) but the houses are not certified. This is because prioritising orientation in relation to the river rather than the sun means overall energy performance varies. Some will be better than the Passivhaus limit of 15kWh/m2yr wheras others will fail to meet it – although overall on average the target will be hit. Is this fair? Well, at Passivhaus levels even a 300% variation in energy use isn’t really a biggie – £100 or £300 a year for your fuel bills isn’t a deal-breaker on a £400,000 house.

The showhouse we visited was three-storey, with living space at ground floor lit from above by a light-well at the rear of the house – a response to the back-to-back configuration but also a way to back up mechanical ventilation with stack-effect summer purge ventilation. Sunshading above windows is a spec-your-new-wheels-style optional extra, but even without it, summer overheating is expected to be infrequent. Internal finishes are contemporary but fairly conventional – Citu have no intention to “go volumetric” by factory-producing entire rooms. The timber frame panels are trucked across from the factory, assembled on site and then a fairly conventional fit-out process starts.

But it’s very much not just about the house. The “package” which is sold is in large part the location and new neighbourhood. This is literal – the land is retained in co-ownership by the collective owners, and the energy and IT networks are similarly shared, evening out demand on renewables output and allowing a surplus to be made on broadband provision which is ploughed back to the benefit of all. On a more emotional level, owners are being offered buy-in to a neighbourhood, a broader identity, rather than simply four walls. This significantly shifts the focus onto placemaking – private outdoor spaces are largely confined to roof terraces, but public realm is generous and richly specified – wildflower meadows flank riverside decking and the hidden parking (around 0.6-0.7 spaces per dwelling) means you’ll never see a car on the shared street, ensuring it becomes a social space.

We left discussing how this might translate onto York Central. Densities and building heights there may be higher, but the principle of doubling up uses on any given footprint has already been tested to some extent in Leeds. The Leeds development is only 5% “affordable” (in partnership with Leeds Community Homes) and the sale prices certainly aren’t bargain basement. But these are high-spec homes – comfortable and with very, very low running costs. And Citu reckon that the process of refining their operation will see their costs being level with “conventional” homebuilders within three years. It certainly feels like a conversation worth continuing, and an already promising fit with the big ideas of homes built to high standards and mixed-use high-density neighbourhoods, with communities made through exchange. We’ll report on that conversation as it continues – meanwhile many thanks Citu and Chris Thompson.

One Planet York Festival of Ideas Event – 10th June 2019

One Planet York Festival of Ideas Event – The Creativity of Sustainability

10th June 2019

Speakers:-

Helen Graham & Phil Bixby

Catherine Heinemeyer

Mike Bonsall

Ivana Jakubkova

Christine Marmion-Lennon

Event Outline

After an introductory presentation by Helen Graham and Phil Bixby on the approach to public engagement used on the My Castle Gateway and My York Central projects, four speakers talked about their own project and how each addresses specific One Planet principles. After each talk there was a pause for reflection and participants were asked three questions:-

  1. What interests you in this?
  2. What are the challenges – what questions does this raise for you?
  3. What connections or collaborations are needed to make this change happen?

Participants were asked to record their thoughts on Post-Its and these were collected…

…following the event they were individually scanned, uploaded to Flickr and tagged for ease of searching. The Flickr album can be found here, the list of all the tags here – they’re all gathered, starting with “opy”. This can be searched by simply clicking on any of the tags. More refined searches can be made by adding extra tags, so for example search for opycouncil, then in the address bar change https://www.flickr.com/photos/165399988@N08/tags/opycouncil/ to https://www.flickr.com/photos/165399988@N08/tags/opycouncil & opylegislate to find Post-Its looking at the council and legislation, or https://www.flickr.com/photos/165399988@N08/tags/opycouncil or opylegislate to find Post-Its looking at the council plus Post-Its looking at legislation.

A summary of the results

Just under 300 Post-Its were recorded. These were tagged on the basis of theme, any action which was suggested or implied, and any body type of body which was connected to the theme or action. So for example:-

Taking a look first at the most numerous tags, Wellbeing was a common issue with Social Prescribing being a common theme within it, and access to it mentioned by many.

Home Energy was also a common issue with a wide range of concerns and themes linked to it – exploring different ways of saving energy / looking at legislation for higher standards of new-build sustainability / assessing the best way to make improvements.

Also common was reference to Land as a key issue – particularly in respect of opportunities for green environment whether large (a York National Park City) or small (Guerrilla gardening).

Collaboration was the most frequently mentioned of the actions, but noted in a variety of contexts. Collaboration with or between organised groups was frequently mentioned (especially Extinction Rebellion) but also peer-to-peer collaboration between individuals (for example community bulk buying).

Information was seen as key, with reference to shortage of information (“how do I find out about…”) and the way in which it needs to be delivered in accessible format. Linked to this, many people mentioned the giving and getting of help and the channels through which this worked, and communication.

Of the various bodies noted in connection with these issues and actions, the council was the most frequently mentioned, with specific roles in respect of policy and recycling, but also more generally as a link with other organisations.

Extinction Rebellion was also seen as a key player – in all sorts of ways but in particular in connecting and collaborating with other bodies (and at the same time concerns were voiced about a crowded field with many environmental bodies and a need to ensure avoidance of unhelpful overlaps). Indeed, a simple wish to ensure cooperation between different groups was also a key concern.

Overall, connections / collaborations were a key concern – between different groups and between issues and key players. Ways of sharing information and educating / getting buy-in were also major concerns, with a wish to carefully explore the possibilities of online platforms and new technology, tempered by a concern that such innovations (eg Uber, AirBnB) aren’t always as cuddly as they are initially portrayed, and a recognition that sometimes collective action works best where people meet, and talk.

My Future York Collaborative Hustings: Write up

In the design of the Collaborative Hustings we sought to move from everyday issues all the way to our big goals for transport and movement in York. Fom potholes to human happiness?

24th April 2019

The Collaborative Hustings led to cross-party agreement for a Citizens’ Assembly for transport to create long-term and cross-party consensus. In getting there the Hustings was structured to move from small scale everyday issues like potholes to overarching aims such as creating a happy city where everyone belongs – but what proved really sticky was what happens in the middle scale in terms of putting ideas into practice…

On 24th April council candidates from all four major parties gathered with 25 members of the public to experiment with a collaborative approach to local elections hustings.

The motivation for experimenting with a collaborative approach in York arises from the fact that council leadership often changes between election cycles and therefore many issues – if they are to be addressed long term – need cross-party co-operation; a point that was noted by some of the candidates.

We chose an issue that everyone agrees is urgent but long-standing:- traffic congestion. We knew there were potentially differences between the parties in terms of the nature of the issue and how to address it, but also that there was plenty of scope for common ground.  Traffic congestion is also a very knotty issue with only vague geographic and conceptual boundaries (it connects to health and economy). It is also an issue which has a lot to do with individual people’s actions – and so needs to be addressed collaboratively between the council and citizens.

The approach we took was to see if we could move from the everyday issues each of us experience in our movement around the city to overall goals for movement in York. We asked a spokesperson from each party to respond from the perspective their party and then we sought areas of agreement.

Starting specific: Everyday issues

We began by sharing a journey we do regularly, working together to pull out and note the issues. We then quickly clustered them on the wall. Key issues were: potholes, congestion, air quality; disappearing bike lanes; Park and Ride buses not stopping on their way into town; Pedestrians feeling as though they are at the bottom rather than top of the hierarchy of users.

Explore fundamental purposes: Overarching goals for movement in York

We then distributed each of these clusters to a group to use a ‘7 whys’ approach to get to fundamental purposes. This is where the idea of going from potholes to human happiness comes in. You – a bit like a toddler! – ask ‘why’ seven times to try and get from specific to really articulating why something is important, what its values are.

Our example of the technique was…

Park and Ride buses don’t run late in the evenings. (“why is this important?”)

People can’t get back to their cars after evening theatre or cinema or similar events (“why is….”)

People will drive into the city centre or more likely simply give up on it as a place to spend the evening (“why is…”)

The city centre gets left to those who are living and sleeping there – mainly tourists (“why is….”)

People who live on the periphery of the city cease to feel involved in and invested in the city centre (“why is….”)

The city centre quietly dies and people in the outer parts of York don’t care

Why do we need to move around? How can movement enhance our community?

All of which leads to an over-arching goal – We want a transport system which means the whole city belongs to everyone

A series of fundamental purposes – of goals – for movement in York were identified.

One reason why putting overall visions into practice is that movement in York is a complex system – any intervention might produce unintended consquences.

But what proved a bit tricky: questions of implementation

However, it was clear that going through the ‘7 Whys’ was a far from easy process. Many groups got understandably caught up in the fourth or fifth layer of whys which often focused on the difficulty of how to address a specific issue. This was so instructive and illuminating. In York it isn’t that we don’t have well-articulated overarching purposes that are shared between parties. For example, One Planet York; Human Rights City and now Zero Carbon. But what is very tricky, and is the real work of local politics, is the translation of these commitments into practice.

Perspectives from the political parties

At this point we asked each spokesperson to reflect on the issues from the perspective of their party.

The spokespeople were Cllr Peter Dew (York Conservatives); Cllr Andy D’Agorne (York Green Party); Cllr Johnny Crawshaw (York Labour Party) and Cllr Stephen Fenton (York Liberal Democrats) and you will be able to read their statements here soon [currently waiting for them to be approved].

What should we think of as being the overall aim for movement in York?

Areas for collaboration: How to build a legitimate vision; translation into policy; levers for change

As the spokespeople were talking we asked everyone else to listen very carefully for areas for collaboration. These were the areas for collaboration that emerged:

Citizens Assembly

There was a shared cross-party commitment to run a Citizen’s Assembly on transport. The shared motivation for this was to take these very difficult issues out of the back and forth of party politics and create legitimacy for a shared long-term approach.

Proactively shape conversations with funders

There was a sense that having this clear and cross-party vison would allow York to develop a common voice in approaching funders. For York to decide what the city wants and base funding approaches on this, rather than simply accepting external priorities.

Policy levers

Responding to the difficulty of the middle level of the issues – the implementation – there was an agreement to explore the effective use of Supplementary Planning Guidance and the forthcoming need to produce a new Local Transport Plan. Both were seen as possible direct outcomes of the Citizens’ Assembly.

How can education be combined with democratic engagement?

Citizens Assembly ‘Plus’: Building collective understanding and change

There was a shared interest in ensuring everyone in York understood the issues – the need to understand behaviour (for example “why do people make specific journeys in the way they do?”) and the role of education in bringing change were discussed.

Our reading of this – not something agreed at the event – was that this could be something to link to the Citizens Assembly and a way of potentially stoking both its legitimacy and capacities for making change. The vague boundaries of traffic congestion imply the need for broader deliberation, and the long-term nature and likelihood of change over time mean the conversation needs to be long-term. A Citizens’ Assembly would be a very positive way forward, but even better might be a Citizens’ Assembly Plus a connected citizen-driven framework whose broader work gives the Citizens’ Assembly greater capacity and insight.

My Future York Collaborative Hustings

24th April 2019, 6-8pm

Spark York

Book a free place

Hustings are usually a combative affair. This local election season in York, can we create a more collaborative approach? Join us for the My Future York Collaborative Hustings.

In the My Future York Collaborative Hustings we plan to reframe hustings – or, in fact, tap into its more ancient meaning. While today ‘hustings’ immediately evokes a series of candidates making speeches and answering questions for an audience, its arcane use, from Old Norse, is ‘an assembly for deliberative purposes’.

For the 2019 Collaborative Hustings we have chosen a specific issue facing York: traffic congestion. While there are significant differences between political parties in how we might tackle traffic congestion, there is cross-party and wide spread public recognition that congestion is an urgent issue. It’s also an issue with only the vaguest of boundaries, touching on transport, urban planning, environmental issues and the nature of our city centre – it’s much broader than a single manifesto issue.

Traffic congestion is also an issue that cannot be fully understood or simply fixed top down by politicians. It is linked into everyday experiences, actions and choices made by all of us who live in York. It is, therefore, an issue that we need to address collaboratively.

We’ll start the hustings by collectively identifying the key issues which contribute to creating traffic congestion and then coming together to map out the issues, seeing how they might connect and identifying where the leverage points for change might be. We’ll then ask candidates from all parties to talk about how they might respond to these issues and leverage points and look for the commonalities in approach. We will then work together – councillors-to-be and citizens –  to set out how all of us can contribute to putting a long term collective approach into practice.

 

Bootham Park Open Briefing Notes

The walks around the Bootham Park site set off

Read the Bootham Park Open Briefing Notes

My Future York have been involved with Bootham Park Hospital site by working with City of York Council and One Public Estate to develop a relatively brief public engagement programme. Our work is generally longer-term and embraces the establishment of an open conversation by building a brief, exploring the challenges which it throws up, and then making change together to ensure public/private investment is matched by community-led change and animation.

With Bootham Park Hospital, given the time constraints imposed by the pause in the disposal process, we have focussed upon building a community vision for the possibilities of the site – incomplete and in some areas conflicting – but bringing a context which reflects both lingering anger over the loss of Bootham Park as a hospital and the plans to sell the site as well as the many positive ideas that have been shared as part of the process.

We ran a one-day event on site on 27th October in partnership with Coaching York, and preceded this with networking and site visits with a number of groups and individuals who brought specific skills, understanding or agendas for change. We have also incorporated into our briefing notes below all input via post-its on the consultation exhibitions at York District Hospital, West Offices and the Citadel, plus those from other events such as the Save Bootham Park Hospital evening event and the Guildhall ward meeting. Furthermore, we have incorporated input given via the online questionnaire and social media.

We have used this information to identify the issues which were seen as important and to build links between them where this is helpful. This is not a vote – there is no attempt to count “for” and “against” comments in relation to any issues, but where there is strong feeling this is noted.

We published them here as a draft – reflections and further comments welcome. We’ll incoperate all comments we recieve before 6th December.

York Travellers Trust: Visions for the future

Credit: York Travellers Trust

As part of the My Future York project, Helen Graham worked with York Travellers Trust and with, Carrieanne Eddison, Denise Lambert, Lorraine Mulvenna, Debi White, Christine Sheppard, Kally Smith and Kay Tate to develop these articles.

Gypsies and Travellers are widely recognised as a significant ethic and cultural group in York. The 2015 floods which affected James Street brought an enormous amount of solidarity and support for the gypsies and travellers who were forced off their site. As one of us, Kally Smith puts it, ‘the whole city came together’.

Yet changes to national legislation have the potential to negatively affect the future of York’s gypsy communities. In August 2015 planning guidance changed the definition of Gypsy and Traveller to remove the idea of a cultural identify, ‘persons with a cultural tradition of nomadism or living in a caravan’. Since the new policy came into effect, this has meant that to be recognised as a Gypsy or a Traveller for planning purposes you had to be only temporarily settled. This has had serious implications for planning for the communities’ future through the Local Plan.

With the Local Plan final public consultation now closed, through four short ‘in conversation’ articles, we explore different aspects of past, present and future life for York’s Gypsy and Traveller communities.

The national policy changes and its implications for the Local Plan has raised the question of how York  – a Human Rights City – can be proactive in enabling the city’s Gypsy and Traveller communities to be fully recognised as a cultural group. It also prompts us to ask some broader questions: How can we ensure all of the city’s communities and their ways of life are planned into the city’s future? How can the way we understand the city’s heritage to be expanded beyond our buildings and archaeology to include living culture and ways of life?

You can read the four different conversations here:

Floods 2015: ‘the whole city came together’

Stopping Places

The Local Plan, culture and community

In ten years’ time

You can also read Violet Cannon (Chief Officer, York Travellers Trust) imagined future for York Central, ‘Sharing York’s Gypsy Traveller Heritage’

In ten years’ time

My Future York has been asking people about an ideal day in their lives in 10 years time to build bottom up a vison for the future of the city – here we explore summer days on the road and possibilities of co-operatively owning and running sites.

Lorraine: I like having a base, if I was a wealthy person I’d have a base but I’m not so we’re on a council site. But I like to go away. We’ve got horses and a wagon. They can’t stop you. What they do now is put stakes at Appleby time, on the main road sides. Or they’ll cut the grass verges so there’s no grazing. We need more sites with 15 + slabs to enable communities to live together and so it’s not lonely.

Lorraine: In ten years’ time I’d like the children, with grandchildren, to be anywhere on the James Street site. I’d like to use stopping places in the summer months. It would be nice if you could go to sites with grass and with an electric box to plug into. Ideally there would be a transit site in every town. Once upon a time in my mam and dad’s days there was common land wherever you went. You might want to spend the summer somewhere on the road sides. There would have to be an infrastructure for your rubbish.

Kally: You won’t want to go and leave your site just to go to another transit site. It’s more about travelling up and down the roads and pulling on the roadside. Five years ago we travelled, we went to Bridlington, big playfields near the swimming baths and spent two weeks there. It brought it all back. That had been our life.

Helen: Imagine that it is the summer…

Lorraine: I might go down to Cornwall to a transit site there.  In the ten years’ time I’d want to be back to the site for the winter. On James Street, the site has been raised up, with bigger sheds and everything is pleasant. They’ve also extended us a bit, we could be up to the hedge and the beck.

Kally: On James Street in ten year’s time, there is no-one on top of one another, there are larger fences for a bit more privacy.

Lorraine: In ten years time, the Council are still running James Street, because the Council are better off owning Gypsy sites than privately-owned because if sites are privately owned we end up with a dog’s life. Owning the site ourselves might also be an option. If I own my little patch. Everyone owns their own plot, if you want to.

Kally: I want to be on the James Street site with the same families, so that the children can take over the family slab. We’d like to be able to pass the slabs on, we’d like to have control over that.

York has become a Human Rights City. This means positively celebrating and enable flourishing of all York communities. If you’d like to support York’s Gypsy and Traveller communities, join the Human Right’s City pledge.

Read other people’s ideas for the future of the city and contribute your own on myfutureyork.org / myyorkcentral.org / mycastlegateway.org

The Local Plan, culture and community

Earlier in the year the City of York Council asked for final responses to the Local Plan. The Local Plan sets the vision for planning and accommodation needs for the coming decades. In August 2015 the planning guidance changed the definition of Gypsy / Traveller to remove the idea of a cultural identity, ‘persons with a cultural tradition of nomadism or living in a caravan’. Since the new policy came into effect, this has meant that to be recognised as a Gypsy or a Traveller for planning purposes you have to show you are only temporarily settled. The local implications of that is that the projected need for new Gypsy and Traveller pitches has dropped: how can York ensure it is properly planning for the future of one of the city’s most significant communities?. 

Carrieanne: In 10 year’s time we’ll all be in houses, the Council’s trying to get rid of the sites. Younger generations will have no more option. If there were more sites available, they would be on them.

Denise: We need another 50 pitches, at least, because there are people who are in houses because there is nowhere else and people who have double up on space. It causes a lot of depression when people end up in houses, they feel isolated. Once you shut the door you see no one. On a site people are popping in all the time. If they are off to the shop, they’ll pop in and see you. In houses, you don’t see nobody. It’s a lonely life when you go into a house.

Lorraine: If we did agree to move into houses, they’d only offer one or two houses and not a whole street because they don’t understand the kind of community we are. When Travellers buy a house they still have all their relatives pulled up behind them because we have to have our own around us.

Kally: My daughter might want a slab on James Street, but I know she won’t be getting one. The council haven’t planned for this.

Lorraine: Gypsy is our culture. A lot of them are coming to realise that calling us Travellers [as in the planning policy] is our undoing. Some will want to live our way of live. Some will move into houses. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t Gypsy people. You can breed it out but you can’t take it out. That’s where you are coming from, that’s your heritage. Whoever is deciding this thing, that you have to travel in order to be a Gypsy, shows to me that the term Traveller should be dropped, we should clam our cultural identity and call ourselves Gypsies.

Christine: Since they changed the definition of Gypsy Traveller, it’s gone from 66 to 3 pitches [under planning guidance]. But people are in a Catch 22. To get housing benefit, you can’t be away for more than six weeks but you have to be away for eight weeks to be counted as a Traveller.

Lorraine: The way we still want to be able to live is simply to live the way all everyone lived 40-50 years ago. They had street parties and they were in and out of each other’s houses. It’s your society that’s lost this way of living, not us. If you go to other countries, normal people in other country they have a community, our English society has lost that. Here everyone’s an island, they don’t even bother with their own. Mainstream society should be taking a leaf out of our book.

The final version of the Local Plan raised a number of issues for York’s Gypsy and Traveller Community and York Traveller’s Trust have been addressing the issues with the City of York Council. With the changes in planning guidance, the number of pitches went from 66 to 3. York Traveller’s Trust believes from their research that this is an underestimate and will be advising a revised figure. The Trust welcomes that City of York has also used equalities legislation to identify an addition 44 pitches. The delivery of these 44 pitches is linked to developer duty based on scale of housing development, as is noted in the final version of the Local Plan. To make this a viable strategy York Traveller’s Trust believes the City of York Council must identify land for future pitches. We will be continuing this conversation as part of the wider public discussion through My York Central.