Multi-storey car park plan for city centre is 'dead in the water'

An image of the plans for the car park with, inset, Cllr Andy D’Agorne
An image of the plans for the car park with, inset, Cllr Andy D’Agorne

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build a new multi-storey car park in the centre of York is “dead in the water”, City of York Council’s deputy leader has said.

Cllr Andy D’Agorne said there was “no business case” for the £14 million St George’s Field car park proposal during an exchange on social media.

But his partner in the council’s ruling administration, Liberal Democrat Nigel Ayre, insisted that the plan was still on the table and no decision had been made.

Green Cllr D’Agorne, also executive member for transport, has previously stated his opposition to the plans, but his latest comments sparked anger among York’s business community – many of whom are concerned about a lack of parking in the city when Castle Car Park is closed to make way for a new public space.

Phil Pinder, vice-chair of York High Streets Forum, said to Cllr D’Agorne: “Businesses made the case for replacing the car park, are you now saying you disagree with BID (Business Improvement District) board? You should resign.”

Forum chairman David Skaith said: "If you agree or disagree with the MSCP (multi-storey car park) section of the plan, this is just highlighting again how we have no clear direction or decisions being made.”

York Conservatives leader, Cllr Paul Doughty, has written to council leader Keith Aspden asking for clarification on the comments.

He said: “The Conservatives have repeatedly asked Cllr Aspden and his coalition partner to publicly promise to commit to replacing all the parking spaces that will be lost with the Castle Gateway scheme.

“Cllr D’Agorne describes St George’s Field as ‘dead in the water’ so is this therefore also the case for the Castle Gateway scheme or does this council intend to sell York businesses and residents down the river? “

Cllr D’Agorne said his views have been shaped by a briefing to the council’s executive last month.

He has previously said that the car park’s business case, which has not yet been made public, shows that the project “is not acceptable in any cost-benefit terms”.

He added: “The two Green members of the executive are pressing for clarity and a report for the whole executive to determine a public view as soon as possible.”

Cllr Ayre, executive member for finance and performance, said: “We remain absolutely clear in our commitment to replacing parking spaces that will be lost with the closure of Castle Car Park, to ensure local businesses are supported in their recovery.

“Retailers and businesses are rightly concerned about an approach which would see a major loss of car parking without providing an alternative parking solution, and we have seen no evidence that it is in the best interest of the city.”

Cllr Ayre added that the “private motor vehicle is still a preferred mode of transport for lots of families across York and the UK and is essential for some.”

The decision on the future of St George’s Field will be considered alongside a wider update on the Castle Gateway regeneration project in the summer.

“The decision on the future of the site will also be discussed at a meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee prior to any formal decision being taken by the executive,” Cllr Ayre added.