FRESH multi-million pound plans for Clifford's Tower have been announced - with a new staircase and a small information vehicle at the mound base instead of a controversial visitor building.

English Heritage said original proposals for the centre, which it abandoned last year in the face of a concerted campaign of opposition led by former councillor Johnny Hayes, had been omitted from its new scheme.

A spokesman said the electric, three-wheeled vehicle, offering guidebooks and tickets to visitors, would be stored off site overnight and then parked on the pavement during the day.

"It would provide scope for a member of staff to be located at street level to assist visitors through selling tickets, membership, guidebooks and postcards and providing other visitor information," he said. 

"In bad weather, it would provide shelter for the member of staff.

"We think this three wheeled vehicle could add life to that public space by allowing staff and volunteers to be based at ground level and engage with the public.

"But in case things change, our designers have deliberately imagined it as a dynamic option, which could be removed overnight, or altogether if future changes to the Castle Gateway area make it surplus to requirements."

English Heritage, which is beginning a public consultation, has also come up with four possible designs for improvements to the steep steps up the side of the mound.

These are:

* new handrails to be installed beside the existing steps

* new handrails beside the steps and three resting points for visitors

* a new metal staircase with two landings to decrease the gradient

* a new metal staircase with a single landing with side area resting points.

Andrea Selley, English Heritage’s Territory Director in the North of England, said the possibility of an escalator or lift, enabling better access to the tower, had been examined but ruled out because of the visual impact, and also because people could have been trapped at the tower if fire broke out and they couldn't be used.

The proposals for the tower at the top of the mound incorporate much of the changes originally proposed in the tower at the top of the steps, retaining the new walkways and roof decking which formed part of the 2016 planning application for the tower.

The charity said the walkways would be constructed in a way which also helped to protect its historic stonework and would allow more visitors to take advantage of unrivalled views of the York skyline.

"The charity is seeking the views of the public on the designs, and hopes to submit applications for planning permission and Scheduled Monument Consent in 2020," said the spokesman.

"Over the past few weeks, a new research project has been taking place at Clifford’s Tower, which sees historic buildings experts examining the conservation needs of the tower’s historic fabric.

"The research, which will continue until December, will help inform conservation works planned to take place alongside investment in visitor infrastructure over the next few years."

Andrea Selley said the tower was one of York’s most important historic sites and English Heritage was committed to investing in it in a way that protected its historic fabric and improved the experience of those visiting.

She said scaffolding had gone up inside the tower so it could be surveyed in detail, prior to a £1.4 million conservation project.

“Over the year since we announced that we would not proceed with constructing a new visitor building at the base of the mound at Clifford’s Tower, we have been reflecting on our plans, discussing various options, and consulting with stakeholders in the Castle Gateway area, and in wider York," she said.

“Now, we are keen to know what the public think of our designs, which is why we are today launching a consultation, inviting everyone with an interest in the future of Clifford’s Tower to respond via our project email address,”

The spokesperson said that although the tower plans were being delivered separately to City of York Council’s Castle Gateway Project and York Museums Trust’s plans for the transformation of York Castle Museum, the three organisations would 'work together so that the story of York Castle is told across the sites in a coherent way.'

To view and comment on the proposals, residents can go to but there will also be two 'York residents Sundays', on October 20 and October 27, when there will be free entry to tower for residents with proof of address so they can see the designs and respond. The consultation will close on December 6.