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
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
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
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
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.
6. Redevelop 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
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
“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.”
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.
Leader of the council David Carr welcomed the report. He said:
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.