Boris Johnson’s team have carried out a feasibility study into moving the House of Lords to York

The House of Lords debates Brexit in October 2019. Photograph © House of Lords 2019 / Photography by Roger Harris

The Government is carrying out a review into moving the House of Lords or another department to the York Central site.

A feasibility study has been completed by the Cabinet Office, City of York Council leader Keith Aspden told a meeting.

Labour councillors claimed the council was storming ahead with plans for York Central – and putting more taxpayers’ money into the project – without stopping to consider the impact of the pandemic or a possible House of Lords move to the site.

But Cllr Aspden said:

  • My understanding is that the Cabinet Office has conducted an initial feasibility study.

    My understanding is that the Cabinet Office has conducted an initial feasibility study.

    That was carried out by the same planners as the York Central development, it needs to reflect the existing development.

    What obviously we haven’t got is a decision from the Cabinet Office as to what they are interested in and how much of the commercial space that would then entail.

Cllr Aspden added: “Discussions have been led by the York Central Partnership and [government] staff talking to officials.

“The officials don’t commission studies and spend money without approval from higher up, that shows it is something that people like Boris Johnson are actually considering.”

He said he will ask the Cabinet Office to release information from the feasibility study.

The Cabinet Office supports the Prime Minister and ensures “the effective running of government”.

Based on agreed plans

Boris is keen. Photograph: Screengrab

Tracey Carter, the council’s director of regeneration, said: “The outline planning application has been agreed.

“If we were to change any of those [infrastructure] fundamentals that would delay the project by many years. It would be reliant on an entirely new planning application.

“The Cabinet Office decisions around what it is they have been looking at have been working on the basis of the agreed outline planning application, with the infrastructure as it is currently designed.”

But a member of the York Central Action Group told the meeting he felt it was unlikely that a government office could fit into the existing plan, let alone the House of Lords or Commons, as has been suggested by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

And Cllr Jonny Crawshaw said: “The great fear would be that the government comes along and says ‘yes we would like to build a great big department but unfortunately you have already put the infrastructure in place that means it’s not possible to deliver.’”

The essential £77.1 million of funding for the project will be awarded to Homes England and Network Rail rather than the council.

Cllr Pete Kilbane raised concerns that the local authority is “losing control” of the project.

The government will also reimburse the council £1.6 million for money it has spent on keeping the scheme going.