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City centre needs to move with times
12:00pm Saturday 12th May 2012 in Letters
TRADITIONAL retailing in the city centre has been in decline for years due to policies aimed at minimising car use and preserving York’s heritage.
Although out-of-town shopping is blamed, if it wasn’t there, the city would be permanently gridlocked.
The city centre is moving into a different phase and this should be reflected in strategic planning. Without a new urban motorway and cheap parking, the centre cannot cater for the kind of shopping now done out of town.
Like it or not, the centre is now mostly a leisure destination and the composition of its retailing reflects this.
As traditional shops close they are replaced by coffee houses, restaurants and speciality shops.
If the Castle Piccadilly scheme went ahead instead of the Monks Cross proposal, it would be unlikely to reverse the exodus of everyday shopping but would increase city-centre car journeys and parking.
The solution might be to plan for the city centre to move towards a car-free future and accept that everyday shopping is now done out of town.
Such planning could involve acceptance that the central business core will shrink, encouraging investment and enterprise in suitable out-of-town locations and making the centre more enjoyable for locals and visitors.
The Monks Cross scheme will provide substantial capital investment, long-term jobs and visitor spending. York can benefit from such investment if it accepts that the centre must evolve.
Jerome Fieldhouse, Cat Lane, Bilbrough, York.
• I REGRET to say that, if correctly reported, the contribution to the debate by our Head of Economic Development (The Press, May 7) only confirms the establishment view that should Monks Cross go ahead the city centre will be left to find its own salvation.
“If the Monks Cross scheme was approved the city centre may face ‘challenges’… and that plans to develop the Castle-Piccadilly site would need a major review”.
This is the first official acknowledgement of what the potential developers of Castle-Piccadilly have previously stated – that they would abandon any proposals they might have, and off-load the site.
This would set back any meaningful improvement to our city centre for years, and waste a fantastic opportunity, all because finance cannot be found to fund a new stadium other than through the back door of a questionable development.
I recall that the chair of York City Knights proposed building a new stadium and community facilities on the back of housing development in the green belt. Considering that York is desperately short of housing, this could be one way forward. There is no evidence in public that the council has explored such alternatives. The question remains, why not?
Philip Crow, Clifton, York.
• Worries over transport links are the latest stumbling block trying to stall the redevelopment at Monks Cross. The probability of congestion is real enough, but rather than extreme measures, would it not be possible to arrange traffic management on match days along the lines of the race days?
This appears to work well and while it does inconvenience some nearby residents, it keeps a lot more traffic moving away from the city. The numbers attending football matches at Monks Cross is going to be a lot smaller than those crowds on Knavesmire.
Other cities cope admirably with huge numbers at each of the Premier League grounds with no fuss, so a 6,000-capacity crowd should be a doddle for planners, even if it includes temporary traffic lights at the exit of the car parking area or something similar. A common-sense approach rather than heated doom and gloom is necessary here. As for John Lewis moving instead to the city centre, I imagine they would have done ten years ago but for the council at that time championing ridding the city of cars and their parking areas.
Jim Dawes, Low Catton, York.
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