Museum bosses need to rethink a “tourists first residents second” expansion plan that could block a popular route into the city centre, campaigners say.
Holgate councillors and a group of residents from Leeman Road want the National Railway Museum to revise plans which they say could cut off their area from the city centre.
As part of the York Central development, Leeman Road would be rerouted to allow the museum to build a new gallery linking its two sites either side of the road.
Pedestrians would be able to get through in museum opening hours, but it would be shut off in the early mornings and evenings forcing people to take a longer detour through a new park.
‘Build over the road’
Leeman Road resident Emily Nelson said she had been initially pleased to hear plans for new housing along Leeman Road, but was disappointed to then hear she would be forced to walk either along the riverside or through a park to get home at night.
Ms Nelson, 25, added: “There’s no reason why the NRM can’t have a new building while we also have access to town.
“They’ve already built under the road, they could build over it. They could be ambitious.”
She said she wanted to see the city council use its power to improve the situation for residents.
“It is in their gift. I hope they will use some of the power they have to force the museum to go back to the drawing board.”
Elaine Nightingale, 65, has lived in the Leeman Road area for three years. She said the plans don’t consider the many elderly people who use the route regularly, and the detour that planners say will take three minutes could take much longer for those with mobility problems.
Holgate ward councillors Kallum Taylor, Mary Cannon and Fiona Derbyshire are backing calls for the NRM to think again.
Cllr Taylor says the plans show the museum putting tourists and visitors before residents:
The NRM have not yet been proactive in responding to the community. At a recent presentation they claimed that Leeman Road splits them into two – despite the fact that the road, and our community, were in place well before themselves.
A masterplan for the redevelopment was approved by senior councillors on Thursday, but council leader Ian Gillies has since said they are committed to listening and learning from residents, communities, businesses and commuters.
“This once in a lifetime opportunity means we will connect the city in ways never before imagined and as a result, the space will change.”
An expansion at the NRM – a key attraction for the city – will significantly add to the visitor economy, he said.
Cllr Gillies said he is already planning to meet museum bosses in the coming weeks, and public engagement will continue over the summer.
The best option
The NRM’s director Judith McNichol said they too believe that York Central has to work for local residents as well as visitors, and both she and the York Central Partnership’s Tamsin Hart-Jones said they had already run an engagement programme, and plan more public work.
The museum boss said the Leeman Road diversion was chosen in November as the best option “to help develop efficient movement through the site”, for access to the new western entrance to the station, and for existing residents.
She also said the museum had commissioned new research to better understand pedestrian and cyclist movements along Leeman Road and the impact of any changes, and it planning more public engagement events in July to discuss the results.
Ms Hart-Jones said the partnership had made its own research about pedestrian and cyclist movements available online, and added: “Further engagement is planned and more information will be available as part of this process in order to help continue the conversation as we approach a planning application in August.”