COUNCIL plans for a new five-storey car park to be built at St George’s Field, off Tower Street, have been given the go-ahead.

But the scheme has caused controversy - with concerns over the appearance of the multi-storey as seen from historic landmarks including Clifford’s Tower, police worries over anti social behaviour, anger from some residents who argue the plans are not in line with council ambitions to reduce carbon emissions and fears that fewer parking spaces may be need in the city centre after the pandemic.

The 372-space car park is part of the Castle Gateway regeneration scheme and aims to replace the spaces at Castle car park so that the area at the base of Clifford’s Tower can be turned into “world class public space”.

The new multi-storey is expected to cost about £14.2 million, according to a council report from October 2020.

But some residents spoke out against the scheme. Johnny Hayes told the meeting he had concerns about the impact on nearby landmarks and said the multi-storey at Piccadilly is not well used: “People just do not like multi-storey car parks. That seems a terrible waste of public money.”

Prof John Hey claimed the car park would have to be demolished in 20 years if the council meets its goals of going zero carbon. 

He added: “Does the council really want to leave this as its legacy, particularly after what it has said about removing traffic from the centre of what is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe?”

And Peter Mills told councillors: “There appears to be a north south divide in the city, with the south being on the wrong side of the tracks.”

But Andrew Lowson, chair of York BID, spoke in support of the scheme: “Retail and hospitality can see that Castle Car Park is a well used car park.”

He added that, while the BID has encouraged sustainable travel to the city: “We believe to provide no parking option at all at this location would be damaging. Even the most forward looking cities have to strike a balance.”

Paul Lambert of York Museums Trust also spoke in support of the scheme.

The plans - submitted by City of York Council to its planning committee - were originally deferred by councillors who asked for a full review of parking in November - but they were brought back to the planning committee 50 days later with a report saying the parking spaces are crucial for making money for frontline services.

The plans were approved by a majority votes, with six councillors voted against approval, eight voting for approval and one abstention.