The Castle Precinct – a proposal by York Tomorrow
In the Inspectors report following the 2002 Public Inquiry into the proposed commercial development on the Castle site it was made clear that here was a cultural asset of the highest importance. Both the dominant Clifford’s Tower, the buildings surrounding the “Eye” of York, and the below-ground archaeological remains were of the greatest architectural and historic significance, and any proposals for development must have regard to this.
The planning application as submitted was refused, since when there has been no resolution of the problems facing the City in an attempt to move forward and establish what should be an area of York worthy of both local, national and even international acclaim.
The recent focus on preparing a new planning brief for the whole of the Castle Gateway provides an opportunity to put forward new suggestions for development of the Castle Precinct in particular, which fully takes account of the comments in the Inspector’s report.
It should be noted that while York Tomorrow supports the concept of the “City as Park” set out in the Prof. Alan Simpson report of 2010 it does not support its recommendations for associated retail development on this site.
The Precinct should be redesigned to provide a fully-accessible public open space to complement the Museum Gardens on the northern side of the inner city. It should provide for relaxation and enjoyable activity at a number of levels, so that it becomes an attraction for all age groups. It should have an educational function, so that the historic aspects of the site can be brought to life, demonstrating the role it has played in city life over the centuries. It should not adversely affect the listed buildings or monuments which are such a feature of the Precinct.
- The car park is removed and relocated either underground or re-sited elsewhere
- The car park area and around Clifford’s Tower will become a grassed open parkland
- The outlined foundations of the former prison will be revealed, including those of the gatehouse on Tower Street
- A lightweight event structure will form a visually permeable boundary to the east, allowing access to and intermittent views across the Foss
- The former burial ground will be redesigned as a memorial garden, with the functions of the northern wall of the Women’s Prison explained
- A pedestrian/cycle bridge will cross the Foss
- A public footpath will run behind the Women’s Prison, eventually linked to St.George’s Field, with information display on the former castle gateway and archaeology
- The “Eye” of York will be paved to allow for public parades, rallies and limited entertainments (bearing in mind the requirements of the Ministry of Justice)
- There will be provision for performances fronting the Women’s Prison
- There will be a free-standing ticket entry and interpretation centre servicing Clifford’s Tower and general visitors
- Tower Street paving and traffic lanes will be redesigned, with traffic management measures, to allow easy access to Tower Gardens
- An open air café area will be allocated opposite the former “Café Andros” site
The proposals should be acceptable both to Historic England and York Museums Trust, and provide much-needed open space for the