About My Castle Gateway

My Castle Gateway launched in June 2017. We’ve been working with anyone interested in shaping the future of Castle Gateway, an area which includes Fossgate, Walmgate, Piccadilly, Foss Basin and Castle area and Eye of York.

My Castle Gateway goes beyond conventional community consultation by enabling all those interested to become part of a sustained long-term conversation where influence comes through sharing responsibility for the area and its future. Throughout we are working to make getting involved will be active, challenging and fun.

Our approach includes:

  • Build a brief: Start with the personal… and make different people’s needs and ideas visible (and our thoughts on the value of a good brief can be read here)
  • Explore Challenges: Cultivate a grown up and sophisticated public debate about complex issues (an example from My Castle Gateway here)
  • Make change together: Facilitate community networks and local action as well as long term community influence in decision-making, design and delivery.

January 2018: The My Castle Gateway story so far…

Step 1: Building the brief
May 2017-August 2017
You walked. You shared what mattered to you. You imagined what you’d do in a future Castle Gateway. You wrote on post it notes and posted on social media.
We developed an Open Brief and invited further comments.

The City of York Council masterplanners used the brief – and the City of York Council vision – to develop masterplan ideas.

Step 2: Deepening understand, exploring challenges
September-November 2017
Through Step 1 you identify challenges such as flooding, how it could be financially delivered and how community ownership could be sustained. While the masterplanners were developing the ideas we stared to openly explore key challenges: Public Space, Movement, Living Well with Water, Ownership and Value. We used these discussions to inform the Masterplan ideas and helped us build networks of key agencies and organizations, interested people and community groups.

Step 3: Exploring the Masterplan Ideas
November-December 2017
In November we shared the Masterplan ideas for the future of the Castle Gateway area. We invited you to explore the ideas, consider what they’d mean for you, identify your priorities and debate how the ideas should be delivered. You can read about people’s responses through our report.

Step 4: Making change together
January 2018-ongoing
Based on your feedback, a preferred masterplan will be developed to go to the City of York Council Executive early in April 2018. While some of the ideas will only be possible after the development is complete, many of the ideas that emerge can just start to happen immediately so that we start to make the place we want now. We’re building Networks for Local Action to carry forward ideas that have emerged through the process and to develop community partners for ongoing involved in the masterplan post-approval, as it goes forward into specific proposals.

The My Castle Gateway approach in more depth

My Castle Gateway project is designed so that anyone who wants to shape the future of the area can get actively involved. It is underpinned by positive principles: that all of our creativity, local knowledge and energy are needed to make a brilliant and loved place. At the same time, My Castle Gateway has been designed to address widely noted weaknesses with conventional approaches to public consultation.

We’ve outlined above how the project has been working. The My Castle Gateway design links creative and ongoing public engagement with the formal masterplanning process.

Step 1: Castle Gateway unleashing ideas… using community-led public events to explore what makes the area important and what people would like to be able to do in the area. Leading to: a vision for the area and a collaborative ‘statement of significance’ and ‘brief’.

Building shared understandings
There is never one way of knowing a place. Places are dynamic, they are being made all the time through the ways we use them to live, work, learn and play. Masterplanning processes rely on a ‘statement of significance’ for an area to help designers take into account what matters about the area. Over the summer we developed a collaborative statement of significance together. We are doing this through rich public event programme with contributions by organizations, community groups and individual researchers and activists. If you’d like to offer an event, we’d be delighted – do get in touch. We will develop an ongoing summary of ‘what matters’ and create an archive of every event and contribution.

Start early, set the brief
As noted above, conventional approaches to consultation often focus on design options and happen too late for public engagement to fundamentally shape the outcome. My Castle Gateway is based on early involvement and a collaborative process to set the brief the masterplanners and designers will work to address. We asked people what they’d like to be able to do in the area to help inform the Open Brief, published in August 2018.

For more about the power of a good brief, read My Future York’s Phil Bixby take on why thinking about what you’d like to do – not what you think might be good or what you think other people might like – can be transformative.

Big ideas …but also trying things out
Sometimes public consultation is all talk. In fact consultation is sometimes seen as a talking shop to distract the public while all the important decisions have already been made elsewhere! While talk, ideas, debate and discussion will be crucial, we also want to get our bodies involved too through trying out and modelling emerging ideas.

Step 2: Castle Gateway deepening understanding … collaborative inquires to research key issues and public events to explore, question and discuss. Leading to: masterplan and planning options.

Address issues head on
We know there will be issues where the right decision will not be obvious. There will be disagreement! Rather than pretend there won’t be, in Step 2 My Castle Gateway we addressed issues head on. We sought to convene working groups of people that want to research and understand issues better, drawing in good thinking from elsewhere, modelling alternatives and organising public discussion and workshops. This collaborative troubleshooting will then inform options developed by the masterplanning to be shared more widely.

Step 3: Exploring the Masterplan Ideas
In November we shared the Masterplan ideas for the future of the Castle Gateway area. We invited you to explore the ideas, consider what they’d mean for you, identify your priorities and debate how the ideas should be delivered. You can read about people’s responses through our report.

Step 4: Making change together… the formal decision-making process and delivery will be directly linked to ongoing community action in the area. Leading to: formal decision making and a strategy for ongoing involvement throughout the delivery process.

Preferred Masterplan to the City of York Council Executive
Based on your feedback, a preferred masterplan will be developed to go to the City of York Council Executive early in April

It’s in the detail
In Step 3 the planning will move towards detailed design and specifying the design of any new buildings, of how the roads and traffic flow will work, where footpaths will run, how parking will work, how public spaces and public events will be managed. At this point we need a crack team of people with an eye for detail to spot issues before they arise.

BUT Good ideas don’t need to wait
As the masterplan ideas move toward the preferred masterplan, there is no need to wait. While some of the ideas will only be possible after the development is complete, many of the ideas that emerge can just start to happen immediately so that we start to make the place we want now.