City sets out York’s thirty year economic vision


A report setting out an ambitious thirty-year economic vision for York has today [19th October] been approved by Members of the Council Executive for further consideration in preparing the Local Development Framework for the City, before entering a period of public consultation.

Funded by Yorkshire Forward, urban planning expert Professor Alan Simpson led a specialist panel including an economist, cultural planner, architects and transport and community planners to produce an economic vision for York, ‘New City Beautiful’; the first time since the pivotal Esher Report of over 40 years ago that the development of the city has been considered in such depth.

The purpose of the study is to examine the economic potential of the city and consider how the unprecedented number of major projects, underway or in the pipeline, can be pulled together into a coherent strategy that will provide greater certainty for future investment.  The work has a strong focus on the delivery of key developments, ensuring these take account of York’s attractiveness and heritage, as well as maximising their economic, social and environmental potential.

Whilst acknowledging that York is an attractive place to live, to study and to work which has, in part, fuelled recent growth, the report highlight’s constrained transport infrastructure network, constricted movement, street clutter and disorder, lack of quality spaces and green infrastructure as key area’s needing improvement. It underlines the need for the city to embrace its two rivers and states a joined up approach to access will increase the effectiveness of the undoubted city assets, including the railway station and the University of York.

The New City Beautiful report makes a strong economic and cultural case for how the city could evolve over thirty years with the introduction of new parks, a car-free centre and a ‘Great Street’ running through the heart of York. Key ideas within the 117-page report include:

Focus on pedestrians: Movement around York is dominated by the car in a way that is not sustainable. Shared bicycle schemes, shared car schemes and better public transport could contribute to the development of the city-wide pedestrian zone.

A park city:  Free of cars, the city centre would develop three new urban parks – a ‘civic park’, a ‘cultural park’ and a ‘production park’ - connected by an expanded circular ‘rampart park’ based on the city walls and by a network of cycle paths and Footstreets. 

The Great Street: Unite the city’s great civic, cultural, natural and educational amenities by establishing a main route running through the heart of York, connecting the university to the east to York Central to the west.

The riverside: Make the Ouse and the Foss, unique parts of York’s heritage, key elements of the city centre with new river frontages, open spaces and river walks.

21st century ‘Bars’:  Six new country parks around the outer ring road would combine with park and ride schemes to become destinations in themselves, connected by enhanced and expanded strays and by a series of green cycle and pedestrian pathways.

Professor Alan Simpson commented: “The UK has never fully undertaken a ‘City Beautiful’ programme and York’s unique historic and architectural assets together with its substantial historic green setting offer an opportunity to do so. The Vision for York idea has been inspired by the City Beautiful and Urban Renaissance programs in the United States and United Kingdom; whilst at the local level working closely with the amenity and business communities in York has driven the work.

“The City of York Council recognizes that quality of place matters to businesses making decisions about where to locate and invest; matters to residents as a living place and a place to live; and matters to the visitor – to enjoy, to learn, to invest, and to come back.” 

Following public consultation the report will inform future work on the preparation of the Local Development Framework (LDF), particularly in relation to the City Centre Area Action Plan. The LDF will set the land use and planning framework for future developments in the city and the report will inform the delivery of major projects and give a physical expression to the policies and proposals set out in the LDF. 

Jan Anderson, Executive Director of Environment for Yorkshire Forward added: “Cities with a clear vision and plan for their sustainable economic growth attract investor and business interest and confidence This ambitious and in-depth report considers how York’s physical, cultural and social assets and opportunities can support an economic growth vision focusing in particular on York as a science and knowledge city. It also suggests a coherent strategy for future investment in the city.  I very much hope that the City makes full use of this work in developing its planning and future investment framework covering the next 10, 20 and 30 years.”

This summer the York Renaissance team recruited two new team members, Guy Hanson and Bob Sydes, with funding from Yorkshire Forward and English Heritage. The team has put in place a work programme to focus on delivering economic impact and promoting high design standards on key sites in the city and the report will be used to shape and influence this work programme. 

For further information and images please contact Debbie Pett or Anita Morris at Anita Morris Associates on 01943 603311 or email; 

Editor’s Notes

  1. The report York Economic Vision: New City Beautiful was produced by Professor Alan J Simpson with guidance from a panel of experts including David Chapman, Scott E Adams, Mark Reynolds, Professor Franco Bianchini, Martin Stockley and with support from Rob Cowan, Amy Hall, Julie Barklie, Rob Vint, Dave Gibson and Valerio Simoni in addition to teams within City of York Council, Yorkshire Forward and English Heritage.
  2. Professor Alan Jackson Simpson is an architect, urbanist, teacher and writer. He has worked across the UK, in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States, with national and local government agencies, universities, community and business interest groups, and interdisciplinary professional teams, brought together to respond to critical urban, social, and economic problems and opportunities. He led the creation and application of the Yorkshire (UK) Urban Renaissance and Town Team Programs.
  3. Esher Report 1969. In January 1966 Richard Crossman - the then Minister of Housing and Local Government - expressed concern at the destruction of many historic towns in the wake of rampant commercial development. He felt there was a failure to reflect the design, materials and scale of surroundings, which was destroying the beauty and character of many historic towns. He announced the idea of pilot projects where four historic towns would be examined to discovered how best to reconcile preservation and progress.

    Viscount Esher was for seven years head of the Royal College of Art and before that (as the Hon Lionel Brett) had a high reputation as an architect specialising in housing and town planning. He was also a persuasive and thoughtful writer, and a man with a rigorous intellect who influenced public policies in the fields of planning and the arts.

  4. In 1968 he was invited to make a study of the city of York, with recommendations concerning its future development, one of four pilot studies of historic cities commissioned by the Government. His report on York, issued in 1969, was a model of its kind and became one of the classic documents which nourished the new interest that arose at this time in the conservation of historic buildings as elements in the environment rather than as individual monuments.
  5. York: a study in conservation (HMSO, 1969) attracted national attention and created a vision which was to influence many future policies. Not all Esher's proposals were accepted, but his work influenced the introduction of more residential properties within the City Centre including new houses in the Aldwark area, and the rehabilitation of the Bishophill area. He also advocated the extension of the pedestrianisation of much of the central area of the City.
  6. Footstreets Introduced in 1987, York has one of the largest pedestrian zones in Europe. The pedestrian streets, or footstreets - create a safer and more attractive city centre for everyone, whether residents, businesses, shoppers or visitors.
  7. The creation of York, England's Footstreets was a radical response to deteriorating environmental conditions in the city center, after it had been shown that piecemeal improvements were inadequate. The Footstreets proposal was developed at a time when the growth of out-of-town retailing was not seen as a fundamental threat to the future viability of city centres. The subsequent popularity of the Footstreets scheme has, however, enabled the City Council to progress to the development of a comprehensive environmental transport strategy with the Footstreets scheme as its centrepiece.
  8. Current developments in York include the expansion of the University of York, major city centre mixed use schemes such as Hungate and Castle Piccadilly, the Terrys and Nestle South sites and the York Central and British Sugar sites.
  9. Local development framework  The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act (2004) brought about major changes to development plan preparation. Every council must prepare a Local Development Framework (LDF) to replace its existing statutory Development Plan. Information on the York LDF can be found at and includes:

    Core Strategy
    This will create a planning vision for York, describing what sort of city it could be in the future.

    Allocations development plan document
    This document will identify future development sites for a variety of uses such as housing, employment and retail, as well as considering provision for other uses including open space and community facilities.

    City Centre Area Action Plan
    A City Centre Area Action Plan is being produced for York. Once adopted the plan will form the framework for development in the City Centre for the next 20 years to protect its special qualities but also identify area based proposals to stimulate enhancement where is it needed.

  10. Yorkshire Forward
    Yorkshire Forward is the Regional Development Agency behind the economic regeneration of Yorkshire and Humber. It aims to make a positive difference by investing in jobs, improving towns and cities, and in supporting businesses throughout the region.

    Yorkshire Forward’s investment across the region is maximised by attracting European Regional Development Funding from the Objectives One and Two programmes and the 2007-2013 Regional Competitiveness and Employment Programmes.


York is the best city and

York is the best city and most beautiful place to travel also. There are number of places to visit in york. parks, beaches, historical places are many places to see. The vision of making this city new and most beautiful is the best vision and it will help for economic development also.