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York Central takes a step forward with Central Enterprise Zone support

The York Central project took a major step forward today, as our Director Paul along with other key partners met with James Wharton MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government who has responsibility for the Northern Powerhouse. The development would represent the biggest investment in the National Railway Museum since its opening in 1975.

James Wharton MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government with responsibility for the Northern Powerhouse, will join City of York Council leaders and partners on Friday to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the York Central Enterprise Zone.

York Central is one of the largest brownfield sites in northern England and was successfully designated as an Enterprise Zone thanks to a joint bid by the council and the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership.

Enterprise Zone status will help to unlock over £100million to help deliver the 72 hectare brownfield site in the heart of York. Announced during the government's Spending Review in November 2015, the status will mean that 50 per cent of business rates for the York Central site, which would have gone back to government, will be retained in the area.

This will provide the funding to be able invest in the infrastructure required to unlock the site and encourage business investment. Prospective businesses locating on York Central will also get business rate relief for the first five-years, providing an incentive for inward investment and business growth.

Estimates suggest this could help to create up to 7,000 jobs in the city, and over £1.1 billion value for the region’s economy. The jobs created would be high-value office based jobs, helping to grow York’s economy by an estimated 20 per cent and would increase average wages in the city.

Enterprise Zone status will also support the infrastructure for housing elements of the site, helping to create new homes on brownfield land and protect the greenbelt.

Northern powerhouse Minister James Wharton, said:

"This Government is committed to rebalancing the economy and creating a Northern Powerhouse - Enterprise Zones play a key role in this by creating thousands of jobs and attracting billions of pounds of investment. 

The North is a great place to do business and the new York Central Enterprise Zone will unlock one of the largest brownfield sites in the Northern Powerhouse, delivering jobs, growth and prosperity for York and the wider region.

Cllr David Carr, Leader of City of York Council, said:

We'd like to thank the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for joining us to sign the Memorandum of Understanding. This is another major milestone in making this key regeneration opportunity in the Northern Powerhouse a reality. For decades, York Central has been the big opportunity for the city to realise its full potential as a high-value economic hub.

Cllr Keith Aspden, Deputy Leader of City of York Council and Executive Member for Economic Development, said:

Gaining Enterprise Zone status was a game-changing development for York Central and the wider local economy. In many ways York has a thriving economy, but its potential is held back by the lack of quality office space in the city centre. For many growing businesses in the city and beyond, York Central is an exceptional location with the rail links intrinsic to the site and ease of connectivity to cities such as London, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and other cities in the UK that this provides.

Barry Dodd MBE, Chair of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership said:

I know from my time at Yorkshire Forward that this has taken around 12 years to happen so we are now delighted to see it taking place. With the potential to grow York's economy by 20 per cent, creating jobs and boosting average wages, it couldn't come at a better time. 

At the local enterprise partnership we work with our partners to help grow the economy by creating quality jobs, building more homes and attracting investment, so we fully support the potential of the site and welcome the Government backing our ambitious plans.

Mark Tarry, Route Managing Director from Network Rail, which supported the bid, said:

By working with City of York Council to have this area of land designated as an Enterprise Zone we hope to unlock the potential of the site, allowing new homes and investment in this key location. It has long been the aspiration of Network Rail, CYC and many local residents and businesses to see this under-utilised space developed to support the vibrant economy and to meet the ever-growing demand for homes in the city of York. We firmly believe that designation as an Enterprise Zone will give the boost which is needed to get this development underway.

Paul Kirkman, Director of the National Railway Museum said:

Today marks the beginning of an exciting journey to transform not just our Museum but the city of York itself for the benefit of all our visitors and local community, this century and beyond. 

A once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a vibrant new economic and cultural hub, the National Railway Museum is supporting the future success of this development with a vision to be the cultural heart of this new vibrant city landscape. We aim to contribute to York’s continued success as a national and international 'go to' destination with ambitious plans to expand our site, befitting of a 22nd century world-class museum. This will be the biggest investment since we opened in 1975 and provide the catalyst to transform our displays for our visitors to York which we aspire to grow to over one million per year. All this done in partnership will collectively bring broader benefits for all York businesses and local community through the increased tourism spend and new business this can attract to the area.

Andrew Sharp, Head of Business at Make it York, said:

York Central presents a huge opportunity for the city. Receiving Enterprise Zone status for the site is a significant step forward and will provide a real catalyst, helping us to attract more businesses and investment to York.

York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP Board confirmed York Central as its top priority for Enterprise Zone status based on the strong proposition and the impact it would have for the region. This week, the council revealed the results of an extensive consultation on York Central, which received 1,224 responses. Of those who responded, 79 per cent supported the redevelopment and objectives, 59 per cent supported the vision of the site and 91 per cent agreed that the heritage of the site was an important quality. The results of the consultation will be taken to Executive meeting on Thursday 14 July.

For more information about York Central, visit York Council's York Central page. You can also read Paul Kirkman's blog about the background to York Central here.

For more information about the National Railway Museum and Flying Scotsman please visit our website. Follow the National Railway Museum on Twitter or find us on Facebook.