The fight to stop a visitor’s centre at Clifford’s Tower is to go all the way to the High Court in London.

A judge has granted a judicial review into City of York Council’s decision to give English Heritage planning permission to build the centre.

This would see a concrete and glass shop, café and viewing deck built into the base of the mound on which the 13th century castle stands.

Because the plans are considered nationally significant it was ruled that the case should be heard by a senior judge in the High Court. It is thought this would take place within the next six months.

‘Unbelievable’ idea

Johnny Hayes leads a protest in November

Johnny Hayes made the application in December. He is an independent councillor but is acting as a local resident. “The idea of a shop, café and visitor centre sticking into the mound and into the Eye of York is unbelievable,” he said.

He always believed they had a strong case, and the judge’s decision has vindicated that.

I am optimistic that our case will be a success.

I hope that the City of York Council might look at this case and decide to quash the present planning permission.

If the original planning permission is quashed, English Heritage can resubmit it to be reconsidered by the planning committee again, Johnny said.

Or they could amend the plans and submit an alternative location for the visitor centre, perhaps in the Castle Car Park area.

A spokeswoman for City of York Council said:

It is not unusual for an ‘arguable case’ to be considered in a full judicial review hearing.

We are entirely confident we have followed due process at all stages of English Heritage’s planning application.

Taking the fight national

An artist’s impression of the visitor centre

Johnny and his wife Frankie have already paid approximately £7,500 towards the costs of legal fees so far.

They are crowdfunding the rest of the legal costs through the Crowdjustice website.

It has raised £9,600 in just over a month.

“This will be spent on taking the case to the high court which is predicted to cost a further £30,000 unless of course City of York Council decide to quash the case,” said Frankie.

She said local people have been very generous – and now the campaign goes national:

We are now hoping to raise funds from right around the country now that we have the permission judgement that will be going forward to the high court.

There are so many people who are very unhappy with this proposal and regard it as a very important case.