English Heritage submit new plans for Clifford's Tower in York and abandon controversial visitor centre

An artist's impression of the plans for Clifford's Tower
An artist's impression of the plans for Clifford's Tower
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English Heritage have submitted a fresh planning application that will determine the future of Clifford's Tower in York as a visitor attraction.

The proposals to make the former York Castle keep more accessible have been shrouded in controversy since 2018, when it was revealed that English Heritage wanted to build a brand-new visitor centre at the foot of the tower mound.

There was a huge outcry and the scheme was even legally challenged before it was scrapped in the face of public opposition.

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English Heritage admitted they had underestimated the depth of emotional attachment to the tower, and instead opened a consultation on alternative development plans. Four different options were presented and the one with the most support has been selected.

This week they have submitted a new planning application to York City Council detailing work to improve the site.

The plans include new internal walkways and a roof deck to provide stunning views over the city skyline, as well as new handrails, resting points and a three-wheeled electric vehicle to improve access to the keep.

English Heritage's territory director for the north of England, Andrea Selley, said:-

“Clifford’s Tower is one of the most important historic sites in York, and English Heritage is committed to investing in the site in a way that protects its historic fabric and improves the experience of those visiting.

“These new proposals follow more than 18 months of consultation with key stakeholders and the people of York, and I am proud of the way they balance protecting the tower, providing much-needed improvements, and respecting the visual appearance of the tower.

“We believe this is a good solution for the future of Clifford’s Tower, but we want to make sure that everyone agrees. I encourage anyone with an interest in the future of Clifford’s Tower to view the plans on the City of York Council website. It is important for everyone that we get this right”

The application will now proceed for consideration by City of York Council. Once accepted, it will be available to view and comment on via https://planningaccess.york.gov.uk/online-applications/.

Most planning applications are decided within eight weeks, unless they are considered unusually large or complex, in which case the time limit is extended to 13 weeks. If permission is granted, a separate application for Scheduled Monument Consent from Historic England will be required before work can begin.