Barton Howe is the landscape architect. Credit: via Big Old House

Partners pick up pace at York Central

The first reserved matters application has been made within the £2.5bn masterplan, as Homes England and Network Rail look to map out a key piece of public space.

Plans for The Square at the York Central development were submitted on behalf of the York Central Partnership at the end of July, marking the next significant phase of the development since outline planning permission was granted by City of York Council in 2019.

A preferred development partner is expected to be announced in the coming months for the scheme, which is set to include 2,500 homes and 1m sq ft of commercial space on a major brownfield site. It is understood that two developers, Muse and McLaren, remain in the running.

The professional team on the public realm project includes landscape architect Barton Howe Associates, masterplan architect Allies & Morrison, planner Avison Young, development manager Aspire DM, lighting consultant Studio Fractal, transport advisor WSP, TetraTech, Pell Frischmann, Gleeds, MIMA and comms advisor Big Old House.

Formally referred to as RMA3 (The Square), the application details the proposed layout, scale, appearance and access for creating a new public space with associated infrastructure and landscaping. It also includes suggested alterations to the existing road network, in line with the design guide and outline planning considerations.

As described in planning documents: “The Square comprises the delivery of a new and significant landscaped space bounded on
its northern and western sides by the National Railway Museum and plot F1 respectively and containing the historic assets of the Mineral Office (Bullnose building) and Weighbridge Office, set within a high quality landscaped public space. Its southern edge interfaces with Cinder Street, which is being realigned as part of the site wide infrastructure works.

“The proposals will also integrate with and enhance the existing network of footways and cycleways in the infrastructure works and wider York by creating new attractive routes through the site. These will generate key points of access and connections across the York Central site.”

The site sits among heritage assets and next to one of the key York Central plots. Credit: planning documents

Initially anticipated to be submitted in spring 2023, the submission was delayed to gather additional feedback from members of the public, partners and wider stakeholders. A series of in person and online events were held from November 2022 to June 2023.

Natalie Webster, senior project manager on behalf of Homes England and Network Rail, said: “Key feedback which has informed the design has been around safety for pedestrians and cyclists, accessibility, lighting and planting. Greenery and community public space were important to many people too, as well as linking with wider phases of the development.

“We’ve listened to what people wanted and worked closely with the wider design and planning team to incorporate as much of this feedback as possible into the latest planning application. There have also been some great ideas that are not suitable for this particular area of the scheme but could work well elsewhere on the site and we will consider these where appropriate.”

A further £40m, conditional on a devolution deal being completed, was recently secured for the project, taking the total already confirmed for upfront infrastructure to £135m.

Work began in summer 2022 to build 2km-plus of new roads plus public footpaths and cycle ways, as well as new utilities and the building of two new bridges over the East Coast mainline.

The plans for The Square have been validated and can be viewed on the local authority’s planning portal with the reference 23/01494/REMM.

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