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Hugh Broughton gets the OK for Clifford’s Tower overhaul

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Hugh Broughton Architects has won planning permission for contentious designs to revamp the keep of York Castle

Last week York councillors voted 11 to three in favour of the proposals at Clifford’s Tower, prompting a petition by disgruntled locals against the scheme which attracted more than 2,000 signatures (Stop English Heritage Making Clifford’s Tower Look Like Disneyland!)

Hugh Broughton Architects is working with conservation specialists Martin Ashley Architects on the job, which it landed following a competition in January 2015.

The project, backed by English Heritage, aims to improve visitor facilities inside the ruined keep, which dates from the 13th century.

A timber structure will be installed to partially cover the ruin and provide a viewing platform at roof level, while suspended metal walkways will give access to the first floor level.

The new additions will rest on pad foundations designed to spread the loads without impacting on the archaeology of the tower.

A new single-storey visitor centre at ground level will include an orientation area, shop, kiosk and staff offices and facilities. A substantial section of the tower’s wall, buried since 1935, will be uncovered as part of the scheme.

Clifford’s Tower is the largest surviving structure from the medieval royal castle of York, which was an important seat of government of the North of England in the Middle Ages.

It was built atop a tall earthen mound in the mid-13th Century, was ruined by fire in 1684 and has stood roofless since. The castle mound is thought to have been raised during the reign of William the Conqueror.

Jeremy Ashbee, head curator of properties at English Heritage, said: ‘This project will reveal more of Clifford’s Tower than ever before and allow us to finally do justice to its remarkable history.

‘An enormous amount of care was taken in preparing the planning application, in consultation with planners, designers and members of the public. We are thrilled to have permission to go ahead with this project.’

Project data

Area: Visitor Centre 230m²; tower 410m²
Client: English Heritage
Conservation architect: Martin Ashley Architects
Structural engineers: Ramboll
Services engineers: BDP
Quantity surveyors: RNJ Partnership
Interpretation designers: Simon Leach Design

Hugh Broughton Architects' Clifford's Tower

Hugh Broughton Architects’ Clifford’s Tower

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Readers' comments (1)

  • It's easy to see why some people consider the proposals contentious - the new visitors' pavilion disrupts the setting of the stone walled keep, damaging its relationship with the clean regular grassed slope of the mound.
    If extra accommodation really is needed it should be at arm's length from the castle mound, not a chunky structure dug into the foot of it.
    Internally the new infill deck, support structure and stairs all detract from an appreciation of the ruin itself - and isn't the experience of climbing the internal stone stair and negotiating the relatively narrow perimeter walk around the wallhead all part of appreciating the character of the building - as well as admiring the view?

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