York Green Party

Greens challenge Council leader over Castle Piccadilly

11 July 2012

Green Party councillor, Dave Taylor is challenging Council Leader James Alexander at Full Council to guarantee that any major development of the Castle Piccadilly area negotiated with preferred developers Centros will include a new civic park in the area around Clifford's Tower.

Following the recent decision to go ahead with a major out of town retail development at Monk's Cross, developers such as Centros are, as predicted, unwilling to invest in the city centre. As reported in the Press 7/07/12 the company has been in 'confidential' negotiations over the site with the Council but has been asking for a public subsidy or 'sweetener' in order to proceed.

Cllr Taylor said, "This is just one of many damaging consequences that will follow the disastrous Monk's Cross decision. Centros has said that these negotiations are covered by a confidentiality agreement with the Council, and yet the public has a right to know as soon as possible what is being discussed.

"A number of years ago, following a massive local and international campaign in which I took part, the inspector at a public inquiry roundly turned down proposals for substantial building on the Castle side of the Foss. Since then the majority of responses to public consultations have called for the current car park area to become a public park to provide more city centre green space and outdoor facilities, and to provide a fitting heritage setting for Clifford's Tower. This is also supported in Prof. Alan Simpson's visionary "City Beautiful Report" which has been endorsed by the Council. It is also in the most recent Castle Piccadilly Development Brief, the York Central Historic Core Conservation Area Appraisal and the City Centre Area Action Plan.

"It is usual when a developer comes forward with major retail proposals from which they will make a substantial profit, for the Council to be negotiating through Section 106 agreements as to how much money the developer will contribute to enhancing local facilities - not how much the public purse can contribute to the developer. I am very concerned as to what this public subsidy could be - the Council has little spare cash at its disposal at the present time - its main assets in relation this development are the Castle Mills Car Park at the end of Piccadilly and the Castle Car Park itself. I am asking Cllr Alexander to reassure us that he is not planning to hand over another major public asset to developers as the first of many extra costs that will result from the Monk's Cross decision, whilst also jeopardising the development of this long awaited civic park."







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