Coppergate is a modern shopping street containing York Archaeological Trust’s famous Jorvik museum. It is just behind the part of York where the Castle Museum and Clifford’s Tower are located. Developers have sought to build around Clifford’s Tower and on the car park next to it, and their proposals have been called the Coppergate Scheme.
A development site with an adjoining scheduled ancient monument and five grade I listed buildings was always going to require the most sensitive handling, and demand architecture of the highest quality. Throughout the 1990s several schemes were put forward which the Civic Trust opposed and which were rejected by the City Council for various reasons. However the last one by Land Securities (arguably the worst of them all) was granted planning permission, in 1998.
The Trust and other organisations like the Commission for Architecture and the Built Enviro nment (CABE) and the Ancient Monument Society, pressed for a full public inquiry and this was agreed. After seven weeks of examination, the Secretary of State eventually accepted the recommendation of the independent inspector and threw out the scheme as being totally inappropriate for this site. The cost in time and resources for the Trust to oppose the scheme was considerable but we felt obliged to do so and the result justified all the effort.