COUNCIL bosses are looking at whether major schemes – including York Central and the Castle Gateway redevelopment – will be able to go ahead after the coronavirus pandemic.
City of York Council is losing nearly £1m a month while the lockdown restrictions are in place – as it loses income from car parks, rents, council tax and fees.
And the council also has a programme of major developments – but there are fears these projects may no longer be financially viable because of the pandemic.
The council was due to spend about £560m during the next five years on schemes including York Central, the Castle Gateway and the area at the front of York Station.
Most of the money comes from government grants and other public bodies, as well as loans.
A report written for senior councillors says: “Whilst the programme is fully funded through a combination of government grants, borrowing and other funding it is clear that a fundamental review of all schemes will be needed to assess any new risks as a result of the pandemic.
“This will include considering the overall purpose of the scheme and whether they are still financially viable given the risk to the overall economy.”
Council bosses are also predicting the pandemic will cost the local authority as much as £35m this year – and even with the extra cash the government is giving to councils and York’s own funding reserve – there is still likely to be a funding gap.
The report says the council does not currently have cashflow problems – but this could change – and may mean the council has to focus on providing only the most basic services.
It will be discussed at the council’s first online video executive meeting on May 7 at 5.30pm.
Long-awaited government funding for the York Central scheme was only just approved on March 11 – with the latest planning application submitted ten days ago.
It is set to create up to 2,500 new homes for residents as well as office and retail space to boost the city’s economy.
Leader of City of York Council Keith Aspden said: “In a very short period, the council has had to adapt swiftly to ensure our residents, businesses and communities can be supported during these unprecedented times.
“The scale of change required across the council and of course, the city, cannot be underestimated.
“We know this has been a very difficult time for many and despite the challenges, I have been encouraged by the response of our staff and our residents to the crisis.
“I am incredibly proud of how council staff and our partners have worked to ensure vulnerable residents get the help they need.
“A great deal has been achieved in such a short space of time, from creating our own voluntary scheme in the city, to establishing over £2 million in local emergency funds for small businesses and residents facing financial hardship. There is a lot to be proud of from the last few weeks and I know that everyone will continue to work hard to make sure our communities are supported.”