Sunday, 2 August 2009

York planning committee rejects barrier plans

Well, sorry about the break as I've been otherwise occupied with one thing and another, but the momentous news is that on 16th July, the West and Central Planning Committee for the City of York rejected the plans for the barriers at the railway station. Unfortunately, because the application was for Listed Building Consent and not planning permission, this decision had to be made purely on the grounds of the aesthetics, though this had the ironic effect of making the long and turgid justification statement made by National Express somewhat redundant.

The meeting itself considered the item for a couple of hours and the whole discussion was prefaced by a long speech from the council's solicitor. It was quite clear that people were almost tying themselves in knots because of the need to avoid any wider issues being mentioned - even those as simple as the fact that the station toilets will be contained within the cordon.

The outcome: the committee split 6:3 against the barriers, with councillors of all parties coming out against the gates. For the record, Cllr Brian Watson (Lab), Cllr Denise Bowgett (Lab), Cllr Ian Gillies (Con), Cllr Sue Sunderland (Lib Dem), Cllr Ann Reid (Lib Dem), and Cllr Sian Wiseman (Con) all voted to reject the plans. Honourable mention is also due to York Green Party, not represented on the committee, who have campaigned against the barrier plans throughout. Thanks also to the three people who spoke against the barriers at the meeting: Janet Rowntree, Jonathan Tyler and last but definitely not least CABYS chair Verna Campbell. A job well done.

This is a small victory and of course National Express may, if they wish to do so, appeal against the refusal of Listed Building Consent, so watch this space for further developments. This could prove interesting with the recent debacle over the East Coast Main Line franchise, since National Express may be a trifle reluctant to spend around £1m installing barriers as part of an agreement over a franchise they are about to lose. It will be interesting to see what the government decides to do when they take over the ECML and whether they wish to take responsibility for pushing through the barriers themselves.

One small aside - just a month or two before admitting they couldn't continue with their obligations, NXEC rebranded almost all of the signs in York station - which were perfectly serviceable apart from the fact that they were in the colours of GNER, the erstwhile franchise holders. Nice to know that rail fares are being spent on things that really make a difference!

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