Flats plan beside park sparks fury
HOUSING bosses are on a collision course with residents over moves to build flats on green space in York.
City of York Council wants to build the eight two-bedroom flats to accommodate pensioners downsizing due to the so-called "bedroom tax".
Social landlords are eyeing up a plot on the edge of Rowntree Park, at the end of Fenwick Street off Bishopthorpe Road.
Residents have had a showdown with local councillors to underline their opposition to the proposals submitted to York Council by the authority’s house-building team.
The objectors say Fenwick Street dates back to the 1880s and its historic setting will be spoiled by the development.
Nicola Thomis, 33, a resident for seven years, said: “Fenwick Street Park is very well used parkland. A lot of people walk their dogs there and the kids love to play there in summer.
“It is a lovely park which is a great communal space. I have seen lot of foxes and bats there and we get ducks and geese from Rowntree Park.
“If they build here, the street will lose all its character. It will feel hemmed in and dominated by the three-storey monstrosity that they are proposing.
“The site is in flood zone 2, which means there is a significant risk of it flooding, a fact that the council planners seem to have conveniently ignored.”
Another objector Kate Thorley, also 33, who has also lived on the street for seven years, said: “It is going to crowd the area out.
“At the moment, we have a nice view and a sense of space. It is green land. Surely, there are other brown sites they can use to stop this green space being lost forever.”
Local Councillor and York Lord Mayor Julie Gunnell said: “It is group policy to build on brown field sites.
“There is a desperate shortage of housing. I understand this is going to be for social need.
“However, I have been contacted by local residents and feel quite strongly there voice should be heard. The land is well used by the local community.”
York Council say the scheme is targeted as older tenants considering downsizing from their urgently-required larger family council houses, into more compact, manageable homes.
The site had been earmarked in the Council’s five-year housing plan approved by Cabinet in April last year.
The aim is to cut the acute housing need using £6 million from reserves, plus a £1m top up, to build up to 70 new homes by summer 2015.
Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “We’re committed to providing local people with good-quality, affordable housing.
“Offering attractive alternatives for people who no longer need a larger home, means we can free more properties suitable for growing families and offer a decent, affordable home to those in desperate housing need.”
A 32-page flood risk assessment has been submitted to planners, stating parts of the site flooded in 1978 - but before defences were raised on that part of the Ouse.
The consultants say precautionary measures will be included in the design to protect the new homes against any risk.
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