‘Why you need to act now if you care about the future of Terry’s clock tower’

The famous Terry's tower. Photograph: YouTube / The P J Livesey Group Limited
14 Sep 2016 @ 8.32 pm
| Environment

More than ten years after chocolate-making at the Terry’s factory on South Bank was closed down by the American Kraft Food corporation, plans for redevelopment of the factory site are almost complete.

The five original Terry’s buildings of the 1920s at the Bishopthorpe end of the site were listed soon after their closure as being of ‘architectural and historic interest’ and have therefore been retained.

Later post-Second World War buildings at the Campleshon Road end have all been demolished to make way for a 21st century estate of sustainable housing and blocks of flats.

Of the earlier, listed, buildings the Time Office building has been redeveloped as offices; the former Head Office block will become a nursing home; the multi-storey factory building itself is in the process of being converted into more than a hundred luxury flats overlooking the racecourse.

Still to be decided is the future of the iconic Clock Tower and adjacent Liquor Store. So far no plans for the Liquor Store have been made public: but the Clock Tower is actively under consideration to be turned into 21 or 22 flats (it is not clear which in the planning application).

To do this will require subdivision of the tower, and the boiler house and pump house attached to it, and the insertion of additional floors in the tower itself.

Provision of adequate light in the new flats in the tower will require the enlargement of existing windows, as well as the renewal of their glazing. The attached ancillary buildings will be extended upwards by the addition of extra storeys and redeveloped as the more flats.

Accessible to the public

A little over 18 months ago, an open meeting was held as part of the ‘Living with History’ research project, to ask how the wider community in York thought the clock tower might be used in future.

Ideas put forward conveyed a strong sense that the building should be made accessible to the public with perhaps the possibility of a restaurant or café being available, and particularly with access to a public viewing point on the roof.

Another shot from the drone video
Another shot from the drone video

Here there could be an exhibition telling the story of Knavesmire, from Roman settlement, to medieval Micklegate stray, Georgian racecourse, and 20th century chocolate making.

These suggestions were put forward in recognition of the significance of the clock tower to generations of York families who had worked for Terry’s over the two centuries and more since it was founded. They were conveyed to the clock tower owners who said they would be taken on board.

No formal arena

Now, a Community Forum to discuss the plans to install flats in the tower has been arranged to take place later this month. Regrettably, this meeting will only be available to a few people who are already accredited as members of the ‘Terry’s Community Forum’, a formally constituted body set up early in the process of redeveloping the whole Terry’s site.

This means there will be no formal arena in which the views of the wider community on the future use of the clock tower can be expressed.

Anyone who has anything to say about the installation of flats in the tower rather than community uses, must go on to the council’s planning website, here. Then you record their views under the reference: “16/01647/LBC | Refurbishment and sub-division of former Clock Tower and Boiler House to form 22no. apartments | The Clock Tower Bishopthorpe Road York”.

A decision on the planning application is likely to be taken early in October.