York's new mayor will be running city with an incredibly exciting future: Steve Secker

There is a strong argument to be made that the city of York has the most exciting future of any UK city. Within weeks it will have a seat at the top table with its own mayor, taking its rightful place among other city regions such as Manchester and Birmingham.

And plans are afoot for a series of regeneration and expansion projects that will transform our historic city on a scale not seen for centuries, impacting everything from business to housing to retail to the charitable sector.

York Central alone remains one of the most ambitious schemes in Britain. A massive 45-hectare mixed-use development site, it will bring to life under-utilised brownfield land to create much-needed residential neighbourhoods, cultural space and commercial premises which could help York’s economy grow by as much as 20 per cent – worth a staggering £1bn to the local economy.

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One of our most-beloved York businesses Pavers is seeking permission to expand its headquarters, a move that will create hundreds of jobs and boost the city economy to the tune of millions of pounds.

Shoppers in York where a series of major developments are in the pipeline in the coming years (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)Shoppers in York where a series of major developments are in the pipeline in the coming years (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
Shoppers in York where a series of major developments are in the pipeline in the coming years (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

The Helmsley Group is proposing to revamp York’s historic Coney Street will breathe new life into the area, opening up access to the iconic River Ouse and generate more than £175m in economic benefits for the city over the next 15 years.

York’s much needed supply of housing will be partially addressed by plans for affordable housing on New Lane in the Huntington area.

And The Island, one of York’s most-beloved institutions, has recently revealed plans to create a new children’s centre which will give young people access to arts, sports, music, therapy, tutoring and the great outdoors.

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Other than proposing to enrich and enhance York, what do all of these projects have in common? The answer is that they are all due to go before City of York planners in the coming weeks.

It will come as no surprise to readers that York & North Yorkshire Chamber’s Property and Economic Forum is a strong supporter of all of these projects. They will create jobs, generate growth and improve residents’ lives for generations to come and we would expect planners at the council to recognise this when making their decisions.

Giving all of the above the green light would send a clear message that the city of York is open for business and keen to boost revenues and create opportunities, something that historically has not been the case.

However, we at the Chamber do not wish to be critical of City of York Council. Since the change in administration last May there has been a marked improvement in the council’s attitude to developers, with both officers and councillors engaging with the city’s business community in a constructive and proactive manner.

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Equally, our members and the development community at large acknowledge the considerable encumbrances the council faces with both its resources and finances – a situation being felt in town halls across the nation. We are under no illusions as to how challenging a time it is right now in local Government.

For this reason, we encourage planners to clear the backlog, look to the future and enable the growth and opportunity all of the schemes outlined above will bring. The revenues they will generate alone will help sustain the city’s essential services going forward. They will also act as a magnet for fresh inward investment, something York has lacked for quite some time.

York is a city known the world over for its heritage and history. With the right attitude it can also be known for its entrepreneurism and creativity.

Steve Secker is chair of the York & North Yorkshire Property and Economic Forum

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