One of York’s flagship plans faces major challenges: a contractor has been laid off, delays are expected and costs are hit by rising inflation.
The Castle Gateway plan has “made significant progress,” City of York Council leaders say. A planning application has been submitted to convert the current Castle Car Park and Eye of York into “a world-class public space”.
However, the associated Castle Mills project, which includes a riverside park, pedestrian and bicycle bridge, failed. And crucially that includes apartments that are essential to fund the wider scheme.
The council has terminated the contract with its contractor, Wates Construction Ltd, after “delays in the detailed design and costing process”.
These were due to “Covid-19, Brexit and current inflationary pressures, which have made subcontractor kit pricing challenging”.
The council must now find a new contractor, meaning construction on Castle Mills cannot begin before the summer of 2023.
Parking garage on hold
As a result, the controversial £14 million plan to build a multi-storey car park in St George’s Field, to replace Castle Car Park, has been shelved.
That parking lot has a building permit. But Andy D’Agorne, board member of the city council for transportation, declared it “dead in water” in April. And more than 1,300 people signed a petition calling for the parking regulation to be postponed.
A report says the Castle Mills delay will allow the council to “gather more parking data, engage further with city center stakeholders and assess all options to determine the most appropriate replacement parking solution for the closure of Castle Car Park.” identify”.
At a meeting next Thursday, councilors will be asked to approve a bid for the government’s Leveling Up fund for £10 million for the Castle Gateway plan. An earlier submission from the York City Council to the fund was unsuccessful.
“With a planning application still to be determined and funding offers submitted to the government, we are making significant progress in transforming the Castle Gateway into a world-class public space,” said Cllr Nigel Ayre, the council’s financial and performance leader.
“We remain committed to replacing lost parking spaces as of the closure of Castle Car Park and are resolute in our desire to make the best decisions for the city, economic recovery and our communities.”
But Cllr Claire Douglas, leader of the Labor Group, said the Castle Gateway project is “in all sorts of trouble” with “huge amounts of wasted government money”.
She said: “Governing parties in York have completely lost control of what should be a visionary project well on its way to delivery.
“Instead, they are relying on the undisclosed Leveling Up funding from a Tory government that has just been determined by a major parliamentary committee to channel funding into key political target areas where York is not one.
“This project is drifting in a spiral of endless delays and cost increases. Will it ever become a reality?”