THE man who defeated controversial proposals for a visitor centre at the foot of Clifford’s Tower says he is "relieved" by English Heritage’s revised plans.

Johnny Hayes described the scheme unveiled by the organisation last week as "very low key" and said it would help to preserve an image of the tower painted by LS Lowry.

The former councillor spent tens of thousands of pounds of his own money on legal challenges to the original scheme, which he said had been branded a "dreadful concrete toilet block", before English Heritage scrapped it last year.

The new plans involve a small information vehicle to be parked each day at the mound base, with a member of staff assisting visitors through selling tickets, membership, guidebooks and postcards.

It also suggested four options for improvements to the steps: new handrails beside the existing steps, new handrails by the steps with three resting points, a new metal staircase with two landings and a new metal staircase with a single landing with side area resting points.

Mr Hayes said: "On the whole I am relieved to see how low key the new plans are. The overriding reaction by most people who campaigned against the visitor centre is one of relief that it has been scrapped. The building of a shop and ticket office in the motte itself was very contentious indeed.

“The main concern of campaigners was to retain Clifford’s Tower in its restored form from the 1930s, the form that LS Lowry painted in his famous painting in York Art Gallery.

“The new plans do not include a shop, ticket office or coffee shop. They are going for a very low key van that will be parked up elsewhere when not in use. I welcome this low key alternative.”

He said he would prefer the staircase option with the minimum impact on views of the tower and so would prefer the one which was very similar to the present steps.

He added that alterations proposed by English Heritage now were primarily internal changes only and made up part of the conservation process, which he welcomed.