Bosses pledge new routes before Leeman Road closes - but councillors scornful

·2-min read
An artist's impression of the NRM's new Central Hall, which will block Leeman Road
An artist's impression of the NRM's new Central Hall, which will block Leeman Road

NETWORK Rail and Homes England’s bosses have pledged that new routes for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles will be in place before York's Leeman Road closes to make way for a new railway museum building.

But their promise has been scorned by local councillors, who claim it 'isn't a generous assurance but the absolute legal minimum required.'

Peter Denton, Chief Executive Officer of Homes England, and Robin Dobson, Group Property Director of Network Rail, have written a letter to The Press about the progress of the York Central scheme to redevelop 45 hectares of brownfield land behind York railway station.

The project includes the National Railway Museum’s controversial proposals to build a new central hall across Leeman Road, which will block direct access to the city centre for local residents but have just won planning permission.

Mr Denton and Mr Dobson say everything done needs to recognise the 'hugely important place the site has in the heart of the city' and this involves getting the new infrastructure right, providing wider benefits for people across York.

"That’s why we’re making sure new routes for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles are in place before changes to any existing routes," they say.

"That includes constructing and opening major new access routes before the planned closure of Leeman Road. We recognise that this is crucial for local residents."

But Holgate ward councillor Rachel Melly responded by saying: "This isn't a generous offer or assurance; it's the absolute legal minimum that they are required to do and it isn't good enough for local residents, especially women, disabled people, pedestrians and cyclists.

"The York Central Partnership are required by the council and the government's Department for Transport to provide the new road through the York Central site (though not the new Water End junction) before closing Leeman Road.

"There is currently no legal way they can close Leeman Road without providing the new link road. However, the new road is longer, indirect, and will be through a building site for potentially over a decade."

Fellow ward councillor Kallum Taylor claimed that the plan getting this far was a 'badge of shame' for the city’s ruling Lib-Dem led council.

He said: "They constantly brag about their apparently great influence with the York Central Partners but - when it comes down to it - let them have exactly what they want and run a mile from making sure the needs of York’s people are taken seriously by them.”

A third councillor, David Heaton, said: “One way or another, this won’t be going away. We’ll be taking stock of the situation with other objectors in the coming days. There are numerous questions marks over the council’s handling of this application."