Proposals for closure of Leeman Road set for public inquiry

OVER 300 objections from residents against the permanent closure of Leeman Road mean that the Department for Transport (DfT) is set to take the controversial plans to a public inquiry. Holgate councillors claim the huge number of people lodging objections with the Department for Transport to a ‘stopping up order’ for Leeman Road shows the strength of the opposition, and an inquiry is needed. Now The Department of Transport has confirmed that due to 340 unresolved objections, it will now hold a public inquiry – before the Secretary of State makes a final decision. 

The road closure would be required if the National Railway Museum is to go ahead with building a new gallery to link the two existing sides of the museum. However, local residents have complained about the inconvenience and delay they would face in going along a diversionary route around the side of the NRM. The news comes after a huge wave of opposition was mobilised by local councillors during a 28 day “objection period” to the road’s proposed Stopping Up Order earlier this summer.

Cllr for Holgate Ward, Kallum Taylor, thanked residents for residents hard work in making the objections.  He said: “After years of gas-lighting and communication-badged-as-consultation maybe this will be the event that finally forces the Council, Railway Museum, and wider York Central Partnership, to take the community’s concerns seriously. “Massive credit should go to every resident who sent objections off during the first lockdown, stood their ground when consultants piled on the pressure and helped to forge this vital opportunity.

When more details are known, we will be ready.” Councillor Rachel Melly added: “Residents in this community are not anti-change but, like many in our city, they are tired of developments in this city proceeding without proper thought given to the knock-on effects elsewhere. “The York Central Partnership’s dangerous game of not budging has led us to this inquiry, so, at last, residents’ voices will be heard.

It still isn’t too late for the community’s concerns to be responded to with reasonable improvements.” The closure of the road will allow the Railway Museum to expand with a new building across the width of the road. The museum will also give up some of its land on the south of their site to the YCP – with the hope of completing the expansion in time to mark their 50th anniversary in 2025.

Residents however, are concerned over the quality and inconvenience of alternative routes once the road is closed. They said another area of concern focuses on traffic management – with already problematic congestion becoming worse when adding the (up to) 2,500 homes proposed in the York Central development plans – which, in their current guise, depend on the road closure going ahead. Yvonne Holmes, proprietor of local grocery store Corking Wines on Garfield Terrace, said: “These plans will isolate our “island” community even more and place the few remaining businesses here under even more pressure.

It’s staggering that we have had to go to this point to force the Council and the York Central Partnership to take us seriously.”

The Press has approached York Central Partnership for a comment. 

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the DfT are still working out how they will run this public inquiry and when it will be able to take place.