Stonegate or Tarmac-gate? Petition demands removal of ‘ugly as all hell’ repairs

Not pretty… the temporary Tarmac repairs on Stonegate. Photograph: Richard McDougall
13 May 2016 @ 4.16 pm
| History, News
Not pretty… the temporary Tarmac repairs on Stonegate. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Not pretty… the temporary Tarmac repairs on Stonegate. Photograph: Richard McDougall

“This looks ugly as all hell.”

Just one response of many from York residents appalled by the decision to repair ancient Stonegate… with Tarmac.

Named because it was the street along which they transported the stones to build York Minster, it is mainly paved with English Pennine flagstones.

But some of these are beginning to rupture thanks to the heavy delivery lorries.

The use of Tarmac to fill in the gaps – albeit temporarily – has shocked many people. And a petition to remove it, set up by Alex Slingsby, amassed nearly 1,500 signatures in the first 24 hours.

To Tarmac Stonegate is a dereliction of duty by the council to protect our city’s greatest asset its history and beauty

Street of shame
Street of shame

“It is worse than vandalism to knowingly use such inappropriate materials to ‘repair’ one of the most historic streets in York,” wrote Peter Hanson, of Fulford, on the change.org petition page.

“How anyone could think that this was an appropriate course of action is beyond me.”

Following the outcry City of York Council brought forward their estimated time for the upgrade of the repairs from July/August to June.

‘This is terrible for York’

A proper jigsaw
A proper jigsaw

More comments on the petition page included…

Tarmac should never, ever be used even temporarily – stop the lorries if need be, but to Tarmac Stonegate is a dereliction of duty by the council to protect our city’s greatest asset its history & beauty!

– Jane Cushing, York

Even as a temporary solution, this is terrible for York.

– Anne Taylor, Elvington

I have a shop in Stonegate and think this tarmac is horrendous!!

– Evelyne Robertson, York

This looks dreadful and unsightly and is not acceptable no matter how temporary.

– Alison Oxley, Pickering

This looks ugly as all hell. History is York’s main attraction, it will need upkeep, but you don’t see the Minster putting half-assed temporary measures up!

– Clare Lillywhite, Fulford

Traffic along the street has been blamed for the problems. Photograph: Dan  Edwards
Traffic along the street has been blamed for the problems. Photograph: Dan Edwards
This is my favourite street in York. Failing to look after York’s historic appearance, which helps to attract so many tourists, and neglecting its heritage is simply not acceptable.

– Pippa Twigg, London

I walked down stonegate and felt ill at the sight of the cheap ugly patches all along the street. It’s just embarrassing.

– Emma Welsh, York

The repair work is hideous and shoddy; a blot on this historic and proud landscape.

– Fiona Long, York

This is an eyesore – criminal damage in such a historic place.

– Sandra Morton, Northampton


‘Ugly and unncessary’

‘Visually jarring’ – York Civic Trust
‘Visually jarring’ – York Civic Trust

York Civic Trust chief executive David Fraser believes there is no place for Tarmac on Stonegate. He said:

These patches are ugly and unnecessary and they diminish the quality of Stonegate and the city centre.

It is visually jarring and causes severe damage to the quality of the environment in this hugely significant historic street which is so important to today’s economy.


One man, who works at the Vapesafe shop on Stonegate, told YorkMix he isn’t too pleased with the altered aesthetic.

The shopworker, who didn’t want to be named, said: “It just looks disgusting.

“It takes away from the heritage of the street. For the tourists too it’ll look disgusting.”

‘Bill of £1 million’

Council workers laying down some more asphalt
Council workers laying down some more asphalt

Cllr Ian Gillies, the council’s executive member for planning and transport, said the council recognised that major improvements are needed in parts of the city centre including Stonegate.

He has asked officers to prepare a report on the options.

Cllr Gillies said:

This will include how we can fund and repair key parts of the city centre’s public spaces and also options on how we can make Stonegate fit for purpose for the future and reduce the cost of ongoing repairs.

Early estimates put this cost at up to £1 million.

The council is currently sourcing new York stone paving for Stonegate which will be restored in June.

Tarmac repairs were always a temporary measure to replace broken paving stones and we recognise the importance of completing the stone paving in June.

These repairs will cost in the region of £30,000 – £50,000, but is far more cost effective than replacing them all individually.

The quality of York’s city centre public spaces are fundamental to sustaining the city’s present and future prosperity, which is important to everyone who lives, works or visits York.