The current council administration inherited a City economy that had been transformed over the previous decade.
Diversification had made the City more resilient to changes in the national economy, unemployment levels were below national and regional levels, the property market was relatively buoyant while dozens of local development sites had been granted planning permission.
2 years later many of the sites with outstanding planning permission have stalled.
Only developments that had already started in 2011, have been pushed through to a conclusion. These include institutional development linked to an expanding higher education sector as well as some social housing at sites like Derwenthorpe.
In response, the Council appears to have adopted a headless chicken response, despatching ill defined missions to Korea, Paris, Cannes and China in an attempt to be seen to be doing something.
The £25,000 Cannes trip has been reported as producing “leads” to 30 potential investors – but no firm commitments.
You know politicians are getting desperate when they feel that they have to sloganise an initiative. So after “Get York Moving” (the City is still moving at much the same speed it has managed for the last 15 years) we now have “Get York Building”.
The initiative has been greeted with derision by many small builders who were cynically excluded from the talks which led up to its launch, while opposition Councillors have been excluded from the “Board” which has been formed to oversee it.
So where are we with key development sites in the City?
This is a summary.
• Monks Cross South (retail and new Stadium) – Delayed by 6 months (Great Crested Newts) . Unlikely to open before 2015 (retail) and 2016 (stadium)
• Hungate – Developers unable to proceed with stage 2 because of onerous planning conditions
• Germany Beck – In delay due to court action. Unlikely to start until 2014 at earliest.
• Derwenthorpe – Phase 1 completed. No confirmation of when remaining phases will be started.
• York Central – stalled
• Castle – Piccadilly – stalled
• University of York – Heslington East – on schedule
• Terry’s – stalled. Site on market for sale again
• Nestlé South – stalled
• British Sugar – Slow progress. No planning application expected before autumn