York’s £300m devolution shopping list: Cash wanted for jobs, housing and a riverside walkway

Photograph: Make It York

A devolution deal could focus on boosting York’s rail industry and jobs in health and social care.

It could also enable the introduction of a tourism tax and regulation of holiday lets.

City of York Council has been asked to put forward a series of requests to the Government about what powers and priorities the city wants from a devolution deal.

Under the proposals, cash could go to creating a low carbon skills programme, bio-tech innovation and a tourism plan. Money would also be spent on projects including York Castle Museum’s redevelopment scheme, the Castle Gateway proposals and overhauling the front of York railway station.

But devolution could also involve the reorganisation of councils – with one idea to include York in a larger council with areas including Selby, Ryedale and Scarborough.

Station and museum plans

York Castle Museum

In its devolution proposals, York council has requested specific funding, some of which is outlined here.

Infrastructure and Place: A £64m York Place Fund to lead regeneration and cultural activity projects across the city, including:

  • £14m to support the delivery of the York Station Frontage project
  • £10m of funding to deliver York Riverside Walkway
  • £28m to deliver Phase 1 of York Castle Museum’s Castle Capital Project
  • £8m to support the delivery of Castle Gateway
  • £3m to support the implementation of York’s Cultural Strategy
  • £1m of funding to transform secondary shopping areas
  • Seek to work with Government to develop proposals to relocate a significant Civil Service or parliamentary presence to the York Central site.

Innovation: £175m to develop a bio-tech ‘innovation ecosystem’.

Tourism: Co-development of a tourism plan between York and North Yorkshire and Visit Britain with joint investment in future.

Housing: Unlocking and delivering a proportion of 20,000 homes, working with the MOD, and a share of a £96m Strategic Housing Investment Package including affordable homes on council sites (such as York Central)

Skills and Adult Learning: £10m low carbon skills programme to up-skill the existing workforce in low carbon industries.

What they said

Liberal Democrat council leader Keith Aspden said devolution should not mean changes to City of York Council’s boundaries.

Speaking at an executive meeting he said: “We would just be starting a formal conversation to see what the government is prepared to offer. Any devolution deal has to be right for York and be of direct benefit to our residents, communities and businesses.

“It is for North Yorkshire County Council and the district authorities to determine which models may be most appropriate and beneficial to their local communities.”

Labour group leader Danny Myers added: “We can make a positive contribution towards sealing a deal that protects York’s significance as a city.

“York’s got an economy that represents one-third of the whole of North Yorkshire’s economy and, with respect to North Yorkshire, we really desperately need to ensure that we don’t see our economy used to prop up the rest of the region.”

Speaking after the meeting, Conservative councillor Paul Doughty questioned plans for City of York Council to be left unchanged. He said: “The Government suggest an optimum devolved unitary authority would be near 400,000 population, meaning York is under efficient currently.”

“We know inefficiencies in York need to be dealt with and the promise of devolution investment from national Government will depend on this being addressed.”

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