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Special Report: York Central

Mark Hempshell reports

The City of York in North Yorkshire is probably best known for its Roman, Viking and medieval history rather than its large-scale development prospects. However, the York Central scheme is said to be the UK’s largest planned city centre brownfield development scheme. With infrastructure work just having gained planning consent, we will look at what is planned for this substantial site.

York Central is the branding that has been given to an area largely consisting of underused railway land just to the west of the current York city centre and adjacent to York’s main railway station and the National Railway Museum. The site extends to around 45 ha. It has been awarded Enterprise Zone status and has been designated as a UK Government Housing Zone. The partnership behind the scheme describes York Central as an ‘opportunity to create a series of new city centre residential and business neighbourhoods.’

The scheme is being brought forward by York Central Partnership (YCP) as a collaborative partnership between Homes England, Network Rail, the City of York Council and the National Railway Museum. It is also supported by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and Northern Powerhouse. The four partners are bringing together funding streams to support the land assembly and the delivery of infrastructure, have created the masterplan for the site, and will manage delivery of the development.

Network Rail and Homes England are the majority landowners and will lead on the delivery of development on the site in conjunction with future development partners, while the City of York Council will deliver the initial elements of infrastructure in paths, cycleways and new roads.

An overall £115m public investment to provide key infrastructure has been pledged and Homes England and Network Rail will be investing £77m. The partnership projects that it could increase the size of York’s economy by 20% and contribute £1.16bn GVA.

The scheme is still at the masterplanning stage. However, it is anticipated there will be up to 2,500 new homes, with at least 20% affordable, and up to 112,000sqm of commercial space including high quality office accommodation with sectors such as professional services, insurance and high value rail being mentioned as potential occupiers. This could provide space for up to 6,500 jobs. (In its heyday the rail workshops here employed over 3,000 people.)

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