Clifford's Tower Visitor Centre Judicial Review

By Cllr Johnny Hayes MBE

Clifford's Tower Visitor Centre Judicial Review

By Cllr Johnny Hayes MBE
Cllr Johnny Hayes MBE
I have been an Independent York Councillor since May 2015. Along with thousands of others, I believe the planning permission process for Clifford's Tower visitor centre was seriously flawed.
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pledged of £15,600 stretch target by 236 people
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Cllr Johnny Hayes MBE
I have been an Independent York Councillor since May 2015. Along with thousands of others, I believe the planning permission process for Clifford's Tower visitor centre was seriously flawed.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Important public meeting 10th March

Feb. 28, 2017


Clifford's Tower in York is recognised around the world as one of Yorkshire's truly iconic landmarks.  It is an enormously important monument, steeped in 750 years of history. But on 27th October 2016 the City of York Council planning committee gave approval for the English Heritage visitor centre plans, including a concrete and glass building incorporating a souvenir shop, coffee bar and viewing area, which will be embedded in the base of the mound itself. Thousands of York residents, and people from around Britain and the world object to these plans and believe that this is a huge mistake.  It is felt that it would be an offensively commercial addition to this much loved landmark. 

                                     Proposed visitor centre, souvenir shop and coffee bar.

A petition with 3778 signatures has been officially presented to City of York Council.  It was also handed in to the English Heritage HQ in London by York Central MP Rachael Maskell.

                                           Save Clifford's Tower protest November 2016

We strongly believe that the planning process which gave this permission was seriously flawed and should be reviewed. We believe it deserves a better plan than this ill conceived addition. I have therefore applied to the High Court for a Judicial Review and the process has commenced. 

My wife and I have paid  £7,354 of our own money towards the costs already.  So we are crowdfunding for those legal fees and possible further fees to have this planning decision reconsidered. 

If this judicial review is successful, the aim will be to persuade English Heritage and City of York Council to consider alternative sites away from the mound. This could be incorporated into the imminent strategic plan for the area, known as the "Southern Gateway".  This could potentially include the remodeling of the ugly Castle Car Park which sits directly next to Clifford's Tower, a scheme that English Heritage themselves would strongly favour.

    View of Clifford's Tower, Castle car park, the Eye of York, Castle Museum and Crown Court

The crowd funding would be as follows:-                                                                                               Stage 1 is the "Permission Stage" where a Judge considers the papers and decides whether it should go forward. The total fees for this are approx £7800 including CrowdJustice fees. If we hit this target, it is feasible that the case could be quashed at this point. If the defendants do not quash the case will move on to the next stage.

Stage 2 is where papers are prepared for the High Court hearings. This will entail fees of a further £7800.  Again if we hit this second target the defendants may decide to quash at this stage. If they decide not to quash then the case will go to stage 3. 

Stage 3 will be a full High Court hearing and the legal fees are estimated at a further £35,000 approx. including defendants cost. 

We are very optimistic that this Judicial Review will be successful. If we are successful then this will allow York the opportunity to give this beautiful monument and area a more fitting plan for the future.

Your contribution could help safeguard a much loved monument as it stands and provide a more optimistic plan for the future. 

                                     Oil painting by LS Lowry 1952. Original at York Art Gallery.

Thank you for your support.

Important public meeting 10th March

Feb. 28, 2017

Public Meeting Eye of York. Looking to the Future.

Feb. 27, 2017

I wanted to get in touch with everyone who has supported the Judicial Review fundraising. Our QC Anthony Crean is optimistic about our case being successful. But this is not just about the Judicial Review we need to move this debate about Clifford's Tower forward. We have therefore decided to hold a public meeting at 1pm on Friday 10th March on the Eye of York to look to the future.. 

The meeting will hear from several speakers who will be looking beyond the Judicial Review on 3rd May and considering the future for the Castle Car Park and this important part of York. There will be speeches from The Lord Mayor of York Cllr Dave Taylor, York Central MP Rachael Maskell, Mr Richard Green former curator of York Art Gallery, QC Anthony Crean and Cllr Johnny Hayes MBE will all speak about the future for Clifford's Tower and this area.

We are hopeful that we might win the Judicial Review but we need to have a vision of what happens next. The public meeting will commence that debate and will be followed by a more formal meeting in late March. This will help to maintain the momentum.

Please come to the Eye of York on Friday 10th March at 1 pm.

Clifford's Tower Judicial Review

Feb. 12, 2017

I went to meet Anthony Crean who is one of the country's leading planning QC 's on Friday and had a "conference" with him to prepare our case to go to the high court. (The trial is due at Leeds Crown Court on 3rd May.) He is confident that our Clifford's Tower Judicial review will succeed. 

The High Court Judge at "permission stage" said that the Clifford's Tower Judicial Review "must be heard by a senior Judge." This is due to the fact that the case is of regional and national significance. It is important not only because of the status of Clifford's Tower as one of the country's most significant scheduled monuments but also because the case itself is of important legal significance.

However this is not only about winning or loosing the case it is about getting the best plan for the future for the Castle Gateway area of York. I hope that the debate around this case will start to focus on creating a wonderful space on the Castle Car Park area. The Castle Gateway is a major opportunity for York, that would provide a fabulous alternative to the present Visitor Centre proposals. It will also provide a wonderful new and exciting space for the City.

Johnny Hayes

Court Case granted

Jan. 29, 2017

We heard from our lawyer last week that the judge has granted us permission to take our case on to the next stage. We are obviously delighted that the green light has been given for the case to move to High Court.  The trial will probably be at Leeds Crown Court first week of May.

There was a City of York Council Executive meeting last week,  which included the issue of the sale of land to English Heritage, at the bottom of Clifford's Tower steps where the visitor centre is planned.  Despite the Judicial Review, the committee decided 'in principle' to sell the land to English Heritage  at a future date unless we win our case.  Myself and three other councillors will be 'calling in ' this decision next week.  Another important factor emerging last week is the decision for the Council to forge ahead with the Castle Gateway Plan which would see  the removal of the Car Park, to be replaced by a 'high quality public realm' (landscaped square). There would then be an area available for buildings next to the River Foss. This obviously throws a new perspective on the visitor centre plans and the issue of whether the motte really is the only available position for the build!?

In terms of legal fees, the stretch target of £16k will take us up to the end of April while our QC prepares the case for us, but does not cover the actual trial day(s).  Unless the City Council quashes the case before the end of April, we will need to raise considerably more funds.                                                                                                                                                         As we have reached our first target any donations pledged from now on will be debited at the time of pledging. (Please note that if we win our case which we are confident about, anyone donating £1000 or more will be able to claim a proportion of it back depending on the value of disbursements from the defendant's side) 

We have been working hard to publicise our Crowd Justice page and now need as many people to share it on their Facebook and Twitter and personal Emails. Please keep sharing as all the small donations really do add up!  

Sincere thanks again to all who have been supporting this case with pledges, and helpful advice, including people from other parts of the country, Sheffield and London in particular. Thank you 

Cllr Johnny Hayes

Our case has reached the National Press. Link to Guardian article 27th January :-

First Target reached.

Jan. 16, 2017

Dear Supporters

We have now passed our first target of £7800 which takes us up to “permission stage” for our Judicial Review application.

A judge reviews all the papers and decides if the case should proceed.

Thank you to everyone who has pledged so far.

We are now moving towards our “stretch target “of £15600.  This money will provide for legal fees to prepare papers for the high court hearing.

Sometime in mid-late January we should hear whether or not the judge grants permission for the case to proceed to a high court hearing. If permission is granted by the judge, we hope that City of York Council might decide to quash the case and then move to reconsider the planning application again.

We cannot guarantee this so need to be prepared to go all the way to the high court hearing. So we are now fundraising for that stage.

Can I remind you that pledges are not cashed until the stretch target is reached.

There is a Facebook page which you can 'like', follow and share as well as Twitter. Please pass information on to friends and relatives.

Thank you for the support and pledges.

Johnny Hayes

Latest article York Mix.

Fundraising update and news.

Jan. 1, 2017

Dear Supporters

We are now over half way towards our first target!  Thank you to everyone who has pledged so far.

Despite the Christmas period, we have had a lot of publicity, and more to come next week on Look North.  

In mid-late January we will hear whether or not the judge grants permission for the case to proceed to stage two.  Stage two will then entail a further £7800 of fundraising.

Please keep sharing with friends and family.  There is a Facebook page which you can 'like', follow and share as well as Twitter.  

Wishing everyone a happy new year!

Johnny Hayes

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