VOLUNTEERS could soon be taking over a historic tower on York’s city walls, as council bosses get ready to sign a long-term deal with the group.

The Friends of York Walls will get a 30-year lease on Fishergate Postern Tower, paying the city council a peppercorn rent so they can open the 16th century tower to the public.

The volunteers plan a visitor attraction, community space and even a cafe in the three-storey building off Piccadilly.

At the same time, Ovington Cricket Club should soon have their lease on their pitch and pavilion on Little Knavesmire renewed.

If the deal is approved by City of York Council’s executive, the club will get a 35-year lease for £580 a year. Under the plans, the land it leases could expand slightly to allow the club to improve the facilities for players. The club’s most recent, 21-year, lease expired this summer, but teams have been playing on the same ground since 1936, originally using an old air raid shelter as a pavilion.

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In 2014 they got planning permission for an extension to their current pavilion, and the extended lease will help the club to get other funding and grants to improve their facilities.

Officials are advising the councillors to agree both plans, as they will give the cricket club a sustainable future, and will bring the unused postern tower - a scheduled ancient monument - back into regular use.

They are also advising that £20,000 of council money already set aside for the tower is allocated to the friends’ group once the lease is agreed. A senior councillor has also agreed to get another community group take over public land.

Cllr Nigel Ayre, a council executive member, approved a plan for the Friends of Chapmans Pond to be given a lease for the popular fishing pond in Dringhouses.

There the group wants to start charging people small fees for fishing rights so they can plough the proceeds back into the site and make the spot safer and more inviting for everybody.

Their immediate plans involve repairing some of the fishing pegs, to make the site safe enough for families to bring children along for a day’s fishing, and maintaining some willow trees that threaten to drop branches onto the path below.