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Environment Agency objection to Castle Piccadilly revamp
DEVELOPERS looking to build new flats and shops in the centre of York have become deadlocked with the Environment Agency over flood defences.
LaSalle Ltd, which owns the Coppergate Centre, has applied to turn the Banana Warehouse and neighbouring computer and furniture shops in Piccadilly, next to the River Foss, into new retail units and 37 flats.
It has abandoned its previous ambition for a wider redevelopment of the Castle Piccadilly area.
But its latest plans are facing a key objection from the Environment Agency, which said its records did not show the development site had any “formal” flood defences.
It said that as a brick wall mentioned in the planning application has a gap, the site would be flooded if the Foss Barrier failed or the River Ouse’s defences were breached, and it believed floodwater storage measures now must be installed.
However, planning consultants Peter Brett Associates, acting for La Salle, have disagreed and called for the agency to withdraw its objection.
In a letter to planning advisor Meryl Leung, the consultancy’s principal engineer, Richard Fisher, said the site’s flood-risk assessment was “robust”, filling the gap in the wall should be sufficient protection, and having to provide storage would have “potentially severe impacts” on the plans.
He said ground would have to be lowered by more than a metre, leaving the scheme’s car park at risk of flooding and affecting the operation of defences at neighbouring sites.
The Environment Agency has stood by its original assessment, writing to Peter Brett Associates last week to say the flood risk assessment was “unacceptable” and it did not agree with the developers’ belief that it would have to lower the ground on the site to provide floodwater storage.
Miss Leung’s letter said: “Unless the applicant can clearly demonstrate that, in the event of the Foss Barrier failing or overtopping, the proposed development will not push flood flows onto others, our objection remains.”
If LaSalle’s plans are approved, with a decision possibly being made next month, the Banana Warehouse frontage will be retained but the rest of the site will be demolished and rebuilt.
The company dropped plans for a comprehensive Castle Piccadilly redevelopment after saying it had been made impossible by the approval of more out-of-town shopping at Monks Cross.
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