The battle against plans to build a controversial visitor centre at Clifford’s Tower reaches a climax tomorrow (May 3).
The proposal hits the high court in Leeds. A judge will oversee a Judicial Review into City of York Council’s decision to grant planning permission to English Heritage to build the centre.
This is the culmination of a fight led by independent councillor Johnny Hayes to stop the development.
“Along with many other people I was very unhappy with the planning process that gave this development permission to build.
“I could not believe that such a wonderful and internationally important monument and local landmark could be treated in this way.”
What will be decided
The presiding judge is Mr Justice Kerr. He is also the judge who looked at the case papers at permission stage in January, and decided that the case was strong enough to go before the High Court.
The review will decide whether the council planning process that arrived at the decision to grant permission was lawful or not, and whether the planning process was flawed.
Clifford’s Tower is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Heritage Monument. It is what remains of the historic York Castle, sitting in the Eye of York, which is recognised as one of the country’s most important conservation areas.
English Heritage want to build the modern visitor centre into the motte on which it sits.
A petition protesting at the idea was signed by 3,780 people – more than 90% of whom live in York.
‘Car park site better’
“Campaigners arguing against the visitor centre hope that the decision will be quashed and that any new visitor centre would be best built in the soon to be remodelled Castle Car Park that sits alongside Clifford’s Tower,” Johnny said.
“This must surely be a better site for all concerned.”
Johnny has invested his own money into the fight against the visitor centre.
While a crowdfunding campaign has raised more than £14,000 for the legal fees for the Judicial Review, the total cost is anticipated to be around £50,000.
The additional costs have been paid by Johnny and wife Frankie Hayes out of their own savings.