Selby Paper Mill

Project date
  • Consultation
  • Green Infrastructure
  • Masterplanning
Yorkshire and the Humber
Rigid Group Ltd
Associated team members
Associated documents

URBED were appointed by Rigid Group Ltd in January 2017 to review an extant outline planning application on their former paper mill site off Denison Road in Selby, North Yorkshire. URBED worked alongside a multi-disciplinary team including Land Agents, Berrys who provided planning and market advice and BWB who provided highways, flood and ecological advice.

It was felt that the former scheme, approved in 2014 could not deliver the aspiration and the market renewal sought by both the client and Selby District Council, and URBED were brought on board to develop a new, rejuvenated masterplan for the site, consult with key stakeholders (including the Canal & River Trust and Environment Agency) and the local community on the design, and inform a brand new outline planning application for the site.

URBED had the pleasure of working in Selby back in 2004 on the Selby District Renaissance  project and on our return in 2017, we found a vibrant town with a rich variety of shops, cafés and restaurants on its high street together with many new housing developments. It was clear that over the last decade Selby had strengthened its position not only between York and Leeds (both reached within 30 minutes) but also with London, thanks to direct train services.

The Site

The former Paper Mill site is located 6 minutes walk from Selby Train Station, south east of the town centre. The site was allocated as a key new housing development in the centre, but had remained vacant since the paper mill buildings were demolished in 2010. Lying adjacent to both the Selby Canal and River Ouse, the site offered a fantastic opportunity for a new high quality waterside neighbourhood.

Design Principles

A series of design principles were explored during the early stages of the project, and these were used to guide the further design of the masterplan:

  1. Waterspaces: The site is bounded by strong edges, in fact we can consider three of them water edges: to the west the canal waterfront; to the north the river Ouse; and to the east the water reservoir. The scheme can draw strength, character and identity by positively responding to these unique boundaries. There is an exciting opportunity to make the scheme a catalyst for enhancing the canal, its waterfront and moorings as well as to utilise the views over the canal and the river Ouse. The scheme will aspire to connect existing waterspaces through green spaces, streets and views across the site and overall will enhance the environment along the Ouse and river walk.
  2. Green as a Connector: Key to the scheme will be to make green infrastructure an integral component, to support the health and wellbeing of its local residents, by bringing it right into the centre creating an axis between the canal waterfront and the water reservoir to the east. This will be traversed by a series of smaller linked green spaces from Denison Road towards the river walk, to connect the new community with the existing one. Each of these green spaces will have a specific identity, helping to establish a strong sense of place within the scheme. We aspire to make the green infrastructure the connector through the site as a whole and beyond. To create a green ‘heart’ accessible to all. 
  3. New Local Centre: Historical maps show that the residential area south of the site was partly developed once the Paper Mill was fully established. The Paper Mill and its workers were also able to sustain and support some local businesses, such as “Betta Butties” on Denison Road, which is still in business.There is no doubt that the closure of the Paper Mill factory impacted these local businesses, thus the new residential scheme has the potential to bring back that support to both existing as well as a number of small new businesses.
    The scheme will incorporate a new local centre off new green public realm on Denison Road. This will accommodate a row of small shop units to complement the existing ones on the south side of the road. This will also encourage shared facilities between the existing and new community.
  4. Permeability: The site connects Denison Road to the canal waterfront as well as to the river walk, the scheme will ensure that good permeability is achieved through the site and beyond. The new residential scheme will encourage walking and cycling, by enabling the street design to favour these to create an environment that encourages low speeds.
    Through urban design, green infrastructure and highway design the site will be connected and permeable from Denison Road to the riverfront and from the canal waterside to the east. To enhance permeability and to connect towards the west and train station, the scheme will propose a new pedestrian link bridge over the canal.


The design team worked closely with an enthusiastic team of officers from Selby District Council, which resulted in an enhanced urban and public realm for the scheme.  A number of stakeholder workshops were held during the early stages of the masterplanning process to engage with members of the Canal & River Trust, Environment Agency and North Yorkshire County Council highways engineers.

A public exhibition was held on Wednesday 26th April 2017 at the Cunliffe Centre, to showcase the emerging masterplan for the site. It was decided to hold the exhibition early on in the project to allow for changes to be made to the masterplan following comments from local people, businesses and stakeholders.
A total of 82 people attended the event and 58 questionnaires were completed providing feedback on the current scheme. The team responded to comments and made a number of changes to the masterplan. These were highlighted in a summary note, made available online in July 2017 on the project's dedicated consultation website:
Proposed Scheme
The outline application proposed the following:
  • The creation of a new waterside development which encourages people to walk and cycle through a connected network of streets, greenspaces and waterside paths.
  • The provision of up to 330 new homes with a mix of houses and apartments.
  • A new local centre, located off Denison Road, located opposite the existing butty shop to draw retail uses together.
  • Space for a new canalside restaurant/ pub overlooking a small marina with additional marina berths.
  • A new linear park, connecting the canal edge with the fishing lake located to the east of the site.
  • An enhanced footpath along the River Ouse.
  • A brand new foot and cycle bridge crossing the Selby Canal, to provide a safe and attractive alternative to crossing over the canal swing bridge. 
The key design elements of the scheme were fixed within a 'masterplan framework', included as the last chapter of the Design and Access Statement, produced by URBED. This framework annotated a series of regulatory plans, which would fix key elements of the masterplan including location of land uses, acces points and streets, building heights and location of green spaces.
Next Steps
As of September 2017, the team are finalising the outline application with the view to submit in Autumn 2017.


Project blog

25.07.2017, 10:55
April Exhibition Summary Note

The team have been working on updating the illustrative masterplan and we have produced a short note to summarise feedback from the April consultation and explain how the masterplan has changed. This can be viewed under downloads >

Selby Paper Mill - April Consultation at the Cunliffe Centre


19.04.2017, 14:12
Selby Paper Mill Public Consultation

We are hard at work preparing our consultation material for the Public Event organised for Wednesday 26th April, next week! 

We look forward to presenting our emerging masterplan and vision for the site with members of the local community, and to gather their feedback.

We will be located at the Cunliffe Centre in Petre Avenue (Selby, YO8 8DJ), from 1pm till 8pm. Information about the project can also be found at