‘Underwhelming’ Clifford’s Tower experience to be transformed as fresh plans are approved

How it will look inside after the work. Images: Hugh Broughton Architects

New plans for Clifford’s Tower – including the installation of internal walkways and a roof deck – have been approved.

English Heritage submitted fresh plans for the historic landmark in February – after a controversial earlier scheme featuring a visitor centre at the base of the site attracted so much opposition that they were dropped.

The new proposals will see the stairs to the tower adapted, with extra handrails and three resting places.

At the base of the stairs a paved public area will be created – complete with benches and information boards.

There could also be an electric Piaggio vehicle selling tickets, memberships and guidebooks.

Draw more visitors

No visitor centre in the new plans

City of York Council planning officers approved the scheme for the Grade I-listed tower last week.

A decision report says one letter objecting to the work inside the tower was received – and one letter in support of the plans.

The council’s report says: “It is a place of commemoration and celebration, yet whilst it receives 150,000 visitors per annum the experience is underwhelming, as there is little information and interpretation, access is difficult and at times treacherous, and the tower is in need of repair work.

The roof deck

“Alongside the regeneration project to reinvigorate and re-envisage the area as Castle Gateway, there is significant opportunity to improve the visitor experience to Clifford’s Tower itself and draw more visitors and York residents to this part of the city centre.”

It adds that English Heritage says the tower has “the lowest visitor satisfaction rating of all its sites”.

People were invited to have their say on plans through a consultation – and planning notices were put up before the coronavirus lockdown.

English Heritage has been contacted for a comment.