Through the Step 1 Open Brief process people said they wanted to be able to:
- Walk or cycle up from the Foss Basin into town and beyond, with continuous, safe, and (preferably) traffic-free routes
- Cross more easily from Walmgate into the Castle area
- Cycle safely on the Tower Street dual-carriage Gyratory and to easily use it to connect into town and onto Skeldergate Bridge
- See and access the Foss from Piccadilly, preferably via routes which allow circulation
- See and access the Foss from the Castle area and to feel closer to the water
- For development between Piccadilly and the Foss to face onto the Castle area and make the most of the views and connections
- Celebrate and share the industrial history of the Foss and Ouse and to see barges and boats on the Foss
- Move between the Castle area and Tower Gardens more easily and to feel greater connection between them.
- Be able to enjoy Tower Gardens with less background traffic noise
- Be sure blue badge holders can park
- Use Park and Ride in the evening to get into town and reduce the need to drive in and to park
- Breathe freely, less air pollution
- Find their way intuitively in order to reduce need for signposting
- Know parking is dealt with, but in ways which don’t conflict with other aspects of the brief
- Park their bikes securely and then walk easily on from there.
The masterplan included a number of ideas related to either creating new routes or making changes to existing road infrastructure, together with proposals for relocation of parking spaces from Castle car park to other possible locations.
The creation of a new foot/cycle route (T11 and T13) from Blue Bridge to the proposed new public space in the Castle / Eye of York running behind the Castle Museum alongside the Foss generated a large volume of responses and was almost universally well-received. There was support for (T16) a safe crossing over the gyratory, and enthusiasm for the new riverside route. A widely noted issue related to providing good reasons to spend time while maintaining a through route. Another – one where there are significantly different views – related to how to providing conflict-free use of the Foss Walk by both pedestrians and cyclists (where we had specific input by York Blind & Partially-Sighted Society and York Cycling Campaign and other local cycling campaigners) with ‘shared space’ being strongly argued against by York Blind & Partially-Sighted Society. Other considerations included flooding, lighting and how to ensure the path is not a lonely space at night.
There was general support for the proposed new bridge across the Foss (linking the Castle / Eye of York and Piccadilly – T4) and again there were issues of design mentioned – a number of responses suggested the bridge should be wide enough to be a destination in itself (much like the Millennium Bridge). As noted above there were a number of responses suggesting encouraging pedestrian / cycle use of Piccadilly (T2) and references were made to the connection between these two ideas and the Foss walk. There were also negative opinions via social media questioning the value of the bridge and questioning what it was supposed to be linking.
Regarding changes to existing roads, there were some responses to suggested changes to the Tower Street Gyratory, which were mainly in favour of redesigning the existing junctions (T3) to provide better / safer movement (although there were others who found the proposals confusing). Linked to this, traffic reduction (to bus-only or beyond) on Tower Street / Clifford Street (T6) and complete pedestrianisation of Castlegate was supported by a number of people, particularly in respect of better connecting Tower Gardens with the Castle / Eye of York. The issue of parking for people with limited mobility (blue badge holders or not) was mentioned by a number of respondents although no particular solution emerged as a consensus. There were conflicting responses in respect of amending traffic and bus movements on and around Piccadilly (T1).
The masterplan ideas suggested two possible locations for a new multi-storey car park to replace the Castle car park spaces if this were put to other permanent use. There were a number of responses which were against the removal of the current car park, but these were outnumbered by responses supporting other uses on the site. The replacement with an underground car park on the same site was mentioned by a few respondents but there was acknowledgement by others of problems of cost and flooding. The Coppergate Centre multi-storey carpark was also mentioned but only by a few respondents (for example the Civic Trust criticising its location).
Of the responses addressing the two suggested alternative locations, St.George’s Field (Site SGF1) was greatly preferred over Castle Mills (Site P3). Reasons varied, from feelings that St.George’s Field was further out from sensitive historic sites and hence had less impact, to the fact that traffic access to Piccadilly was seen as more problematic (as Castle Mills is inside the inner ring road, whereas St. George’s Field is outside it). However there were various additional points made in respect of broader thinking – a number of responses pointed to the use of shuttle vehicles to “shorten” the distance from the relocated car park to the city centre, and some voiced ambivalence over the need for the substantial investment in city centre parking when the council was encouraging the use of Park & Ride.