There were 2,634 planning applications made in York in 2017-18, of which 233 involved Listed Building Consent applications that directly proposed to alter or impact upon the city’s historic buildings and spaces.
York is evidently an exciting, ever-evolving place in which to live, work and visit. The Trust welcomes change when it benefits the city and is not detrimental to the city’s unique historic environment.
The work of the Trust’s Planning Committee is therefore to support change where it is appropriate and of good design, and to be vigilant in identifying proposed or likely changes to our city’s historic fabric that unnecessarily harm it.
Consequently, a number of the city’s buildings and spaces are identified by the Trust to be at risk and concern to us. These come in addition to the national ‘Heritage at Risk Register’ maintained by Historic England, of which a number are currently in the City of York local authority.
BOOTHAM PARK HOSPITAL, Bootham. YO307BY
Why it is important. Bootham Park Hospital was designed by John Carr in 1773-77, and then known as York Lunatic Asylum. Further separate buildings were added in the subsequent forty years, including a range by Watson and Pritchett. Extensive internal refurbishment and a link block for affluent female patients was added by Alfred Creer in 1908.
The wider Bootham Park site has six separate Grade II listings. These include the gates, gateway, railings and lodge on Bootham, the former chapel, Medical Superintendent’s House and other buildings. In addition, the main Bootham Park Hospital building by John Carr is Grade I listed.
The hospital is a stunning piece of Georgian architecture by John Carr, the city’s preeminent C18 architect. The vista of it as seen set back from Bootham, with its grounds before it, is particularly fine.
The history of the building and its grounds is fundamental to York’s rich history of mental health provision. Bootham Park Hospital was created to prevent the mentally ill from being placed in unsuitable institutions like prisons. This did not necessarily prevent in-patients from living in squalor, and the poor conditions at the hospital led to the foundation of the city’s other major historic mental health centre, The Retreat, which itself became world renowned for its pioneering treatment of the mentally ill.
The threat. The Bootham Hospital closed to inpatients in October 2015 and shut completely in October 2017 when the NHS relocated to elsewhere in the city. This brought to an end 240 years of history of mental health provision on the site. The building has subsequently been put up for sale on the open market for unconditional offers.
The threat to Bootham Park is multifaceted. If left to stand empty, it is at risk of decay through environmental conditions and attract anti-social behaviour and crime. To this end, selling the property is a likely solution. But from it, pressure will likely be to convert it into residential uses, with potential negative impact on external and internal historic features and the ability ‘to read’ the building’s original form and use.
The setting of the former hospital is also likely to come under pressure from development. This would lessen the aesthetic and historic setting of Carr’s building. Retrospective planning applications by York District Hospital in Spring 2018 for a temporary building and car park to the rear of Bootham Park already show signs that the original curtilage land of the asylum is at risk of inappropriate development.
BURTON STONE COMMUNITY CENTRE, Evelyn Crescent, Clifton. YO306DR
Why it is important. This 1930s building was originally a gymnasium / hall for what was called Water Lane High School for Girls (later called Burton Stone Lane Secondary Modern County School). It opened on 6 October 1942
It was designed by local York architects, F.T. Penty & J.E.N. Thompson and has architectural and aesthetic interest as a rare example in York of the streamlined moderne style (a late type of Art Deco), using a choice of a materials and scale in keeping with the vernacular of the local vicinity of the 1930s Burton Stone, Kingsway North, and Water Lane housing schemes it served.
It was the first purpose-built Local Education Authority secondary school in York and the city’s first public-ownership-provided Youth Centre. It is also a rare surviving example of a building built specifically to meet the craze for sport, health and wellbeing, especially for youths and women in particular, that took a hold of the country in the later 1930s. With almost no identifiable 1930s school gymnasium buildings on the National Heritage List for England, despite the keep-fit craze of that decade, this building is of clear historical significance locally, as well as a possible national significance.
The building is not listed or in a Conservation Area. The Trust has however been successful in having the building added to the York Local Heritage List as a non-designated Heritage Asset. A heritage appraisal for the building can be read here.
The threat. There is an on-going planning application by the Council to demolish the 1930s school gymnasium building to make space for an extension to a residential adult care home.
The Trust welcomes added provision of residential care space on the site, but has objected to the application believing the 1930s building can be saved by incorporating it in the residential care home scheme.
THE CARLTON TAVERN, 140 Acomb Road, Holgate. YO24 4HA
Why it is important. Built in the late 1880s in an attractive Arts & Crafts / Domestic Revival style, and originally known as West Garth, this building was a prestigious residential villa, among others, located in land between the urban centres of Acomb and Holgate. Today, as a consequence of the urbanisation of the city during the C20, The Carlton Tavern villa, which still has many of its historic features, is the last of the four grand Victorian/Edwardian villas that once stood along Acomb Road (West Bank and Shelley House having been demolished, and the other example, West Villa / Braeside, is all but lost to the residential development that surrounds it). It has rightly been recognised by Pevsner and included on the York Local Heritage List as a (non-designated) Heritage Asset for its architectural and historic merit.
Immediately after the Second World War (when the building served the community as one of the cities four fire service headquarters), West Garth became a children’s home and was duly renamed as the Godfrey Walker Home for Children. Residential at first, due to changing social norms it later became a day nursery. More recently it has served the community as a public house. The building therefore has a rich history relating to the urban development of western York and social care and community provision in the city.
The threat. A planning application was submitted in March 2017 to demolish the Carlton Tavern in order to use the site for a large residential care home. The site is vulnerable to development due to being neither listed or in a Conservation Area. However, in April and again in June 2017 the Trust entered substantive objection letters to the Council regarding this application. The Trust recognises the need for care home provision in the city, but believes that, on this site, it would needlessly require the loss of locally important heritage
Furthermore, the Trust believes that where there is the will, and through the use of constructive conservation principles, a compromise solution can be to made whereby the existing Carlton Tavern building is incorporated with a reduced in scale care home to the rear.
The Council’s Planning Committee approved the scheme in October 2017 but brought it back for an unprecedented re-vote in December 2017, when planning consent was this time refused. The application decision was upheld own appeal in August 2018 and since when the tavern has reopened as a public house. The Trust maintain’s its stance that this building should not be lost.
CLIFFORD’S TOWER, Tower Street, York. YO19SA
Why it is important. Clifford’s Tower is one of the city’s leading links to the Norman era. It was constructed by William the Conqueror in 1068 as an urban motte and bailey and acted as a statement of his power over a region that was rebellious to its new ruler.
It holds strong evidential value of York’s turbulent and violent past, as well as the city’s importance to the Crown. It is the site of the city’s darkest chapter, the massacre of 150 of its Jewish inhabitants in 1190.
The current castle, with its 15m high walls, dates to a later stage of development in 1245-72, when Henry III ordered the tower to be rebuilt and strengthened in stone in order to defend the city against the Scots. Its four leafed clover design pattern (known as a quatrefoil) was unique in England.
While the castle fell out of use in the later Middle Ages, its final military role came when troops were stationed here in 1642 during the Civil War. Following it being gutted by an explosion in 1684, the castle later became a garden ornament until incorporated into the nearby prison complex in 1825.
In addition, part of Castle Yard at the foot of the mound holds strong archaeological evidence of an Anglian cemetery and part of a Roman road, cemetery and settlement area of the vicus (Roman fort).
The threat. English Heritage submitted a planning application in 2016 to enhance the financial viability of the site by building a visitor gallery with roof deck in the tower and a visitor centre at the foot and embedded in the mound opposite the Eye of York. This created much controversy due to the proposed visitor centre’s unsympathetic design and use of materials, negative impact on views of the Clifford’s Tower, and potential loss of archaeology.
The application was approved in November 2016 but later taken to the High Court in 2017 and was due to be reviewed at the Court of Appeal in 2018 before English Heritage withdrew its application. There are currently discussions ongoing with City of York Council and York Museums Trust (as the Castle Museum is sited close by) about new solutions.
York Civic Trust is hopeful that a more sympathetic solution might now be sought, but while English Heritage continues to be under pressure to improve visitor facilities at Clifford’s Tower, and the site offers unique challenges of how this might achieved, the future of the tower remains at risk.