The end of Castle car park – and 7 other plans to change one neglected part of York for good

17 Jan 2017 @ 7.22 pm
| Environment

It is both an area of outstanding history – and a grotty corner of York which embarrasses us all.

Now plans have been revealed to change what City of York Council calls the ‘Castle Gateway’. That is the area covering…

the Coppergate Centre
the Eye of York
Clifford’s Tower
St George’s Field
and the Foss Basin

A new vision lays out the ways the gateway could become a beautiful and vibrant part of York attracting many more people. The report will go before councillors at the Local Plan Working Group meeting on Monday (January 23).

So what are the proposals? Glad you asked…

1. Move Castle car park

A sad reflection of the current setting of Clifford’s Tower

The council plans to move the surface level Castle Car Park away from Clifford’s Tower.

Parking spaces will be replaced either by putting the car park underground at the same site or building amulti-storey car park elsewhere.

2. Develop the banks of the Foss

The River Foss looking across to Ryedale House

This would see a building constructed housing a “high quality, mixed use commercial development on the banks of the Foss, on the site of the Castle Car Park, respecting a build line that follows the historic line of Castlegate”.

3. Create a new public space

‘Re-imagined’… the Eye of York area

This would link the area in front of the Castle Museum and the Crown Court “to create a re-imagined Eye of York area that would articulate the varied historical narratives of this important area of the city”.

4. Build a bridge

The pedestrian and cycle bridge would span the Foss, connecting the area to Piccadilly, Walmgate and Fossgate.

5. Create new riverside walkways

These walkways would be along one or both banks of the Foss to improve access to St George’s Field and the Foss Basin one way, and into the city the other.

This sketch produced for City of York Council shows how it could all work

6. Redevelop Piccadilly

Low quality: Piccadilly

The report calls Ryedale House, the Banana Warehouse, the NCP and Castle Mills car parks and 17-21 Piccadilly “low quality sites”.

These would need to be redeveloped. The report reveals that Steamrock Capital now own the Coppergate shopping centre, Banana Warehouse and Ryedale House – whose previous owner went in to administration.

Steamrock bosses have “expressed their keenness to work with the council to develop them”.

7. Improve St George’s Field

Under-exploited: St George’s Field

Use of St George’s Field car park is “mediocre” while “the Foss Basin is underused and unattractive and the water asset is not embraced or exploited”.

There is no set idea for what to do about this, but the report suggests that the council should “explore long term options to realise the potential of St George’s Field and the Foss Basin”.

8. Revitalise the Coppergate Centre

Needs a new lease of life: the Coppergate Centre

“The Coppergate Centre has struggled to generate footfall and is disconnected from the Eye of York to the south due to Castle Car Park, and the main city centre shopping areas by the Coppergate road junctions,” the report states.

The solution? “Enable the revitalisation of the Coppergate Centre’s retail and residential offer by extending the leasehold term.”

Changing fast

An aerial view of how Spark:York could look on Piccadilly

Things are changing fast in this part of the city. Developer Northminster plans to build a 146-bed hotel and eight apartments on Piccadilly.

Spark:York is to create a business, social and entertainment hub out of shipping containers on the former Reynards Garage site on the same street this spring.

And permission has been already granted to English Heritage to build a visitor centre into the mound on which Clifford’s Tower sits – a decision now facing a legal challenge.

The report suggests extensive consultation should be carried out before any work is done to turn this new vision into reality.

Ambitious plan

A panorama of the Castle car park and the Eye of York

Leader of the council David Carr welcomed the report. He said:

Our new ambitious vision will revitalise this whole area of York ensuring it can realise its full potential.

We’re already seeing new developments in this area such as Spark:York.

We hope this vision will help to further kick-start new interest and investment in what has been an often underused and in parts semi derelict part of the city.

Deputy leader Keith Aspden said as the principal land owner the council has a major role to play.

He said:

A key part of this vision will be to use our assets to help stimulate and guide development, and that alongside partners we can maximise the opportunity to shape this area and regenerate this important gateway to the city.