The government may not have confidence in the council to deliver York Central – according to a councillor.
And that could be why there has still been no announcement on whether York has won £77.1m of essential funding for the scheme.
City of York Council bid for money from the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) to deliver the development – which would feature up to 2,500 homes and office space on land near the station.
Cash to kickstart the project – including £23.5m from West Yorkshire Transport Fund – is dependent on York winning its bid.
A decision was due in March – but a council report says there is still no timetable for when the authority will find out if it has been successful
On Saturday the government announced £600m of funding from the HIF had been awarded to councils for new homes – but York was not among them.
Out in the cold
Labour group leader Cllr Danny Myers said:
As each new government announcement passes, allocating hundreds of millions of pounds for new housing infrastructure, the more York is looking left out in the cold.
The question is why. The government requires confidence and certainty when awarding significant sums of money and a council with a long-term absent chief executive is not going to inspire confidence.
It remains unclear what the Lib Dem council leader is doing, if anything, to try to resolve this situation.
City of York Council leader Keith Aspden needs to explain why the Government isn’t talking to the council about York’s HIF bid, Cllr Myers added.
“Why does it trust the likes of Cumbria, Essex and Cheshire to deliver major housing schemes but not York? This council’s current approach isn’t working, it isn’t communicating with its partners and it has no plan B.
“Cllr Aspden needs to do something before the wheels come off completely.”
Focused on the south
But council leader Keith Aspden claimed the government is focusing on the south but said he would work to make sure progress is made. He said:
It is disappointing that the Government have yet to make a decision on the York Central Partnership bid to secure £77.1 million to unlock York Central, and instead, have focused their attention on projects located in the south east.
With growing calls for the Government to turn its attention to the North of England and ‘Power up the North’, I will continue to work positively with partners to ensure progress is made and urge the Secretary of State to reach a swift decision on the HIF funding, so we can begin to deliver York Central.
It is somewhat bemusing that Labour have decided to bemoan the lack of confidence in the York Central project, as it has been their work to vote against the infrastructure funding and call for a planning inquiry.
In July senior councillors agreed to put £750,000 towards keeping the project going for the next four months while awaiting a decision.
The money will be used for further design work and finalising the next stage of the planning application process.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Keith Aspden said the Conservative leadership race may be to blame for the delays.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been approached for a comment.