A PURPOSE-BUILT centre to help York children deal with mental health and other issues has been approved on the edge of the city.

The planning committee of City York Council has approved the scheme on an 8-acre site off New Lane, Huntington, from the York charity, The Island.

Members agreed the benefits of the support it would give to thousands of young people, coupled with a range of environmental initiatives as part of the development meant it was a ‘very special case’ allowing it to be built on the Green Belt.

The Island can now build a modern and fit-for-purpose home that will enable the charity to expand its reach and support more children from across the city. Since forming in 2007, The Island has provided vital support to over 3,000 young people, and this new facility will allow them to continue and enhance their work.


The new activity centre will serve as a dedicated hub for the charity. Designed with input from young people as well as the wider community, the plans include flexible spaces for activities such as a café, recording studio, therapy rooms, tutoring areas, and health advisory rooms.

In addition to the indoor facilities, the centre will feature an extensive outdoor landscaped recreational area, offering space for sports facilities, gardening, woodland walks, and outdoor play. The majority of the site will be kept as landscaped space including an outdoor gym, parkland, meadows, sensory garden, and growing areas for the children to enjoy.

The plans have garnered widespread support, with positive comments submitted by York MPs Rachael Maskell and Julian Sturdy, plus others from the academic and business community, plus York Civic Trust.

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At planning committee yesterday (Thur), The Island CEO Nigel Poulton said approval of the scheme would allow the charity to reach more youngsters, noting current limited spaces were holding it back. The charity would also be able to work closely with City of York Council and other groups more and better.

The development would also be a first in combing indoor spaces with the ‘peace and quiet’ of the outdoors in its help for young people.

Mr Poulton also reassured councillors funding was in place from benefactors to build and run the development so it was sustainable in the long term.

Before they unanimously approved the scheme, with a final decision to be made by the secretary of state due to the Green Belt location, councillors praised the scheme for th support it would deliver to the young.

They also noted it would improve the biodiversity of a ‘monocultural’ field.

Cllr Christian Vassie noted how the charity aimed to exceed the council’s environmental standards.

Cllr Tony Fisher called the proposed building  ‘environmentally friendly’ and ‘well-designed.’

Committee chairman Jonny Crawshaw the proposal went ‘above and beyond’ and should be seen as a ‘very special case.’

After the vote, Nigel Poulton thanked the committee and stakeholders for helping give the Island a successful future.

He added: ““Approval of this project allows us to deliver a modern, fit-for-purpose home, with new facilities, activity spaces, and wellbeing and mental health spaces. This scheme will unlock new ways of supporting young people and enhance collaboration with local groups and the local authority.”

The project will now move into the build phase and on-site activity is expected later this year. Further updates will be provided in due course.

The project team includes Vincent & Partners, O’Neill Associates, Aspect4, Re-form landscape architects and Royal Pilgrim Communications.