City of York Council

York’s ‘preferred options’ document clearly and concisely sets out the local and regional context, the issues that York is facing and the vision for the future of the city.

The York Minster plays a key part in the heritage of York. This image shows the Minster facade in lights as part of the annual ‘Illuminating York’ event

The York Minster plays a key part in the heritage of York. This image shows the Minster facade in lights as part of the annual ‘Illuminating York’ event. Copyright City of York Council.

In the first section of the document, the issues and challenges facing York are clearly set out, as well as providing an overview of the opportunities. It also addresses the geography of the area, the regional context and the population trends, along with housing, employment, the historic environment, education, transport and minerals and waste. And it sets out the ecological footprint for York, which establishes a baseline for measuring climate change objectives.

The section on York’s special historic and built environment clearly identifies design quality as a priority for the area. This is reinforced in the proposed policy, particularly where it sets out the standard of development that is expected:

“encourage a strong sense of place through maintaining and enhancing local townscape and landscape character, river corridors, street patterns and frontages (in particular York city centre’s medieval street patterns, urban spaces, burgage plots and snickleways). Development should respect local form and scale, and promote high quality standards of contemporary design in buildings and the spaces and surfaces between, in terms of:

  • urban grain, with respect to the arrangement of street blocks, plots and buildings in determining the texture of the city
  • urban structure, and the framework of routes and spaces connecting locally and more widely
  • the character and appearance of landscape, landforms, open space, planting boundaries and treatment
  • density and mix
  • scale, in relation to its surroundings, views, vistas and skylines, in particular the prominence of York Minster both from within the city and in longer distance views across the open countryside
  • massing in relation to other buildings and spaces
  • the texture, colour, pattern and durability of materials, and techniques and elements of detailing used.”

Proposed policy CS4(b)

The policy makes specific references to the characteristics of York, such as the burgage plots, snickleways and York Minster. However, the policy could be strengthened by including examples of important local characteristics for each of the bullet points, such as the green wedges that shape the urban structure of the city.
Extra maps and photos would have supported the document and reduced its length, but the text has painted a clear picture of York and the priorities for the area.