Businesses views are being sought to look at reducing the level of congestion caused by loading and delivery vehicles in York’s city centre during peak times, after a study carried out by City of York Council found that over 10,000 lorries and vans travel through the city on an average 12-hour day.
The study also showed the extent of how many delivery vehicles were crossing the three city centre bridges on average, with over 1,200 rigid lorries and almost 4,000 vans during a working day.
This week, transport officials will meet city centre businesses to establish current levels of freight activity, identify patterns and trends in delivery servicing and understand problems which will lead to recommendations being put forward for any improvements.
A key part of the study will be to collect data on current delivery and servicing activity so that the council can obtain the most up-to-date and accurate information for any future proposals.
One of the proposals, which the council will be asking businesses for their views on, is whether to introduce a Freight Consolidation Centre (FCC) on the outskirts of York. This concept has already been successfully implemented in Bristol and London (Regent Street) and has helped to reduce the number of delivery vehicles in their shopping areas, improve air quality, whilst making the streets more pedestrian friendly zones.
The idea of an FCC is to have a consolidation centre on the outskirts of York where goods are delivered then transported via smaller low emission vehicles into the city centre.
Cllr Dave Merrett, Cabinet Member for Transport, Planning and Sustainability, said: “We want to improve the overall shopping and living experience in York as part of our Reinvigorate York initiative, as well as reducing congestion, reducing vehicle emissions and improving air quality on our roads. A Freight Consolidation Centre (FCC) could well be a solution on the outskirts of York with low emission vehicles delivering locally.
“We will be working with retailers and other businesses to see if there is a feasible scheme for York that will work well for them as well as for the city.”
Frank Wood, Chairman of the Retail Forum, said: “Retailers in the City Centre would be very supportive of a plan to reduce the congestion in the city. An FCC is a concept considered for support by the Minster Quarter several years ago and there are many hurdles which need consideration before implementing any version of this.
“Although the system will reduce the numbers of large trucks entering the city, consequently there will be many more smaller trucks to carry the freight; there is the liability (and insurance cover) for the transfer of goods from one truck to another – who will take responsibility for any damages?; perishable goods, there is the continuity whereby goods are sealed from a cooled premises into a truck and only opened at the delivery address, how could the quality of food be maintained?
“Most retailers are in favour of extending the pedestrian hours (and thereby the perceived trading day), this would squeeze the available time for deliveries thereby exacerbating the problems we already have, so a solution to deliveries is needed.
“I will be consulting the Retail Forum members (and would be interested in hearing from non-members) for their views to solve this difficult problem. It is, of course, important to reduce York’s carbon footprint but the viability and health of the city centre retailers is also vitally important, any solution would need to consider this very carefully before any proposed remedy is commissioned.”
Retailers and businesses will be asked to take part in a short survey later this week through to the end of August.