Landmark York Central scheme 'could help tackle city's historic jobs imbalance'

A leading official on the biggest development in decades for a historic Yorkshire city says she hopes the scheme will tackle its long-standing jobs imbalance and allow more of its students to settle in the area after they graduate.

Work could start on the York Central development in 2019.

Tamsin Hart-Jones, senior specialist at Homes England, spoke of her hopes for the landmark York Central scheme, which is expected to create 6,500 jobs in one of the largest brownfield regeneration sites in England.

The project will create 2,500 homes and 112,000 square metres of new office space as well as plans for a ‘great park’, an outdoor space for residents and a new square marking the entrance to the new western concourse at York railway station.

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Speaking to the website Built Environment Networking, Ms Hart-Jones said the development on land next to the city centre “represents the biggest opportunity to transform York in generations”.

She said: “This is a unique chance to create brand new neighbourhoods right in the heart of one of the UK’s largest and most popular cities, transforming both its housing provision and creating a new commercial quarter. Given York’s historical nature the opportunities for growth in the city centre are limited and this brownfield site has huge potential.”

Describing the impact on the city’s economy, Ms Hart-Jones said its office market supply was restricted by the fact there is no Grade A office space in the city centre to attract industries such as technology, financial services and creative industries.

She added that there was currently an “imbalance in the types of jobs York offers, with most opportunities linked to serving York’s large tourism base”.

She said: “This means that students graduating from universities in the region often don’t settle in the city, as they feel there are limited opportunities for them.

“Because Grade A office space isn’t available in the centre, York is off the radar for many businesses looking for space, despite the fantastic connectivity York has. York Central gives us the opportunity to change that.”

The York Central scheme is being brought forward by a partnership between Homes England, Network Rail, City of York Council and the National Railway Museum. The construction of the first homes and offices are expected to begin on site in 2020, with building work taking place over 15 years.

Enabling works, which include the relocation of on-site telecommunications systems, are expected to begin on site in early spring 2019.

If outline permission is granted by city planners, Homes England will try and identify a development partner for the first phase of residential development early next year.

The National Railway Museum, which welcomes 750,000 visitors annually, has a £50m masterplan to expand its facilities on the site by 2025.

City of York Council was one of two Yorkshire authorities singled out for criticism by the Government last year for failing to make enough progress on its Local Plan setting out its long-term planning vision.

The document, which provides clear rules which determine what gets built, and where, in York over the next 15 years and beyond, was submitted to Ministers in May with just days to go before the deadline.

Two inspectors have been appointed to examine the plan and the council says public hearings could take place as early as February. Six weeks notice will be given prior to the start of the hearings.