Castle Gateway update: November 2023

On 16 November 2023, the Council’s new Executive met to receive an update on Castle Gateway and agreed a number of actions to progress the project in an affordable way. A summary of the project and the decisions made are included below. You can also watch a webcast of the meeting.

1.  Background

The Castle Gateway area of the city has long been discussed for regeneration and over the past three decades private sector redevelopment proposals had failed. In recent years, with partners, the council has been working hard to deliver improvements to the area.

In April 2018, the council’s Executive approved a masterplan for the ‘Castle Gateway’ scheme to transform this part in the city.

Since that point significant work has taken place on individual schemes that form the masterplan, in line with Executive approvals. In recent years a number of factors have impacted the scheme, firstly the COVID pandemic and more recently the impact of inflation, with increased delivery and borrowing costs, and housing market uncertainty that continues to impact all our lives.

The council also submitted two unsuccessful Levelling Up Fund bids to government to fund public realm improvements around Clifford’s Tower and the Eye of York. All of this has impacted significantly on the previous business case for the project approved in January 2020.

In light of the cost of living crisis the council is reviewing all major projects, including Castle Gateway to ensure that the schemes offer value for money and deliver for the people of York.

Following a review of the project a number of options were presented to the Executive looking at ways the scheme can be delivered more cheaply, whilst delivering on the principles of the masterplan and the recently approved Council Plan – One City for All – and what people have told us they want to see change in this area.

2. 17-21 Piccadilly

In respect of Spark York on 17-21 Piccadilly, Executive agreed to extend the lease for a period of up to November 2026, to provide time to explore opportunities to relocate this facility elsewhere in the city. Longer-term, opportunities to develop the site for 100% affordable housing will be explored.

3. Castle Mills

The Castle Mills site gained planning approval in 2020 for a new riverside park, pedestrian and cycle bridge, and new apartments that would help to fund the wider masterplan’s public benefits.

In 2021 the council selected a contractor to carry out the detailed design and to provide a tender price for construction.  In 2022 the contract was terminated due to challenges with the design and costing process.

Executive agreed to:

  • pause further work on developing the Castle Mills site, to investigate meanwhile use options in parallel with exploring longer term opportunities for the future delivery of 100% affordable housing on this council owned site.
  • progress work to deliver the pedestrian/cycle links to the rear of the Castle Museum including a new bridge connection over the River Foss to Piccadilly (subject to confirmation of external West Yorkshire Combined Authority funding and approvals). This will deliver sustainable travel links and city centre connectivity in accordance with the Local Transport Strategy, and achieve the wider aims of the Castle Gateway masterplan.

4. St Georges Field Car Park

It was agreed that the council will not proceed with the building of a multi storey car park on St George’s Car Park, as it does not represent value for money in terms of providing additional spaces.  This decision acknowledges that costs of up to £1m (site surveys, liaison, design, planning application, project management, programme assurance and support) will have to be written off by the council this year.

Executive agreed to:

  • develop proposals which balance: improved parking capacity; pedestrian and cycle connectivity; and coach drop off facilities within a surface level layout.

5. Castle Car Park and Eye of York

In February 2022, the council submitted a planning application for a new public space at the Castle and Eye of York, the heart of the masterplan. The design was informed by extensive engagement with residents and businesses about what they want to see in the area.


Two funding bids which sought to deliver the public realm around Clifford’s Tower and the Eye of York have been unsuccessful, so there is a significant funding gap for the current project.


The council’s new Executive reconfirmed the re-purposing of the Castle Car Park to support the delivery of a revised Castle Gateway Masterplan, with retained Blue Badge parking.  Castle Car Park will only close when a revised business case and planning application has been approved for delivery.


Executive agreed to:

  • review the design of the Castle and Eye of York scheme to be simpler and more affordable, and to reflect the more inclusive ambitions of the new Council Plan. The review will focus on:
    • the retention of blue badge parking numbers
    • flexible green space with children’s play provision
    • the river edge and the creation of walkway to increase connectivity in the city
    • reducing capital and management costs.
  • draw on the wealth of insight that already exists from engagement to date and will to engage on the redesign of the Castle and Eye of York space to inform revisions to the planning application, while meeting the aims of the masterplan.


  1. Coppergate Centre

In respect of the Coppergate Centre, we will extend the lease of the site to the current owner in exchange for over £1million of private investment to improve St Mary’s Square (the area in the middle of the shopping centre), and the release of land to the rear of the shopping centre to the Council to support Castle & Eye of York proposals (including retention of blue badge parking).

7. Next steps for the Castle Gateway project

We remain committed to delivering this transformational project for the benefit of our city and communities.

6 thoughts on “Castle Gateway update: November 2023”

  1. Regeneration of The Foss basin was originally part of The Castle Gateway Plan. This aspect was not even mentioned in the update. The need to re-develop this neglected area of the city centre has been highlighted repeatedly over the years. The original plan to build apartments over the food wall was opposed by the Environment Agency and so the Council have completely dropped this aspect of the plan without due consideration and discussion examining other potential, smaller, affordable ways that the Foss Basin could be improved.

    • Hi Hannah, I shared your comment with the CYC Castle Gateway team and the send me this to post:

      ‘The Executive report provided an update on projects that are currently active within the Castle Gateway regeneration area. The Foss Basin and Tower Gardens are still part of the masterplan, however these areas are programmed as a later work packages.’

      I appreicate this raises the question of when those later work packages will be appraoched. I’ve asked the CYC team that too and will post the answer here.


  2. I couldn’t agree more with Hannah. The River Foss Basin if highly visible to any visitor entering York via St George’s Field car park or along the towpath from Novatel. It could be developed as an outstanding recreational area for residents and visitor being a fundamental component of the Castle Gateway area. As it stands now, it is a neglected eyesore half full of derelict boats.

    • Hi Peter, just passing on a response from the CYC team. “Thank you for your comments. The potential value of the Foss Basin is recognised within the Castle Gateway masterplan, however the timing of later work packages is unknown at this stage.”
      Best wishes, Helen

  3. The Council’s renewed commitment to this important scheme is welcome. However, given the existing cultural richness of this area of York, and the potential for its enhancement, it is disappointing that this review doesn’t mention this potential, nor the Council’s commitment to providing a cultural component to Castle Gateway. Policy D 3 within the draft Local Plan states that ‘proposals will be supported where they are designed to sustain, enhance, and add value to the special qualities and significance of York’s cultural character, assets, capacity, activities, and opportunities for access.’ It also requires developers to create a ‘Cultural Wellbeing Plan’ for significant developments. The delay in implementation provides an exciting opportunity for the Council, with partners, to develop such a Strategy for Castle Gateway – both for its own sake and as an incentive to developers of other schemes in York.

    • Hi Robert, I shared your comment with the CYC Castle Gateway team and they send me this to post:
      “Thank you for your comments. The Castle Gateway masterplan objectives will continue to inform any revisions to proposals of the area and include ‘enhancing the setting of Nationally significant heritage’, and an ‘enhanced cultural and heritage offer’. All proposals will comply with the Local Plan.”
      Best wishes, Helen


Leave a comment