Hugh Broughton Architects and Martin Ashley Architects’ Clifford’s Tower initially judged as the “clear winner”

Clifford's Tower_Dirk Lindner_ORIGINAL_3

Source: Dirk Lindner

Inside the restored Clifford’s Tower in York

Hugh Broughton Architects’ restoration of Clifford’s Tower in York had been due to be named as RIBA’s Yorkshire Building of the Year for 2024 but was pulled because of a lack of wheelchair access, Building Design can reveal.

Lucy Plumridge, jury chair for the regional awards, said the RIBA award’s group felt that it would “not be appropriate” for the scheme to receive the top prize because the absence of wheelchair accessibility conflicted with the institute’s core values.

RIBA made the highly unusual decision to name several winners of regional and special awards in Yorkshire last week without handing out a Building of the Year award, which is the top prize for a project in each of RIBA’s 10 regions in England. 

According to Plumridge, it was not possible to provide wheelchair access at Clifford’s Tower, an 11th century castle which sits at the top of a steeply sloping mound.


The restored Clifford’s Tower scene from the air

She said: “As a local architect I am very proud to have chaired the RIBA Yorkshire Regional Jury to celebrate the amazing architecture we have in the region.

”It was fantastic to visit the shortlisted projects and talk to the architects and clients involved to understand their schemes, and how they had responded to often very challenging sites.

”With this deeper understanding of the projects, we selected the RIBA Yorkshire Awards winners and from these our special awards nominees including ’Building of the Year’ and presented these to be ratified by the RIBA awards group.”

> Also read: RIBA announces winners of its 2024 Yorkshire Awards without naming a building of the year

> Also read: What made this project… Clifford’s Tower by Hugh Broughton Architects

”We were unanimous that that there was a clear winner, Clifford’s Tower, which has carefully preserved an 11th century ancient monument that sits atop a steeply sloping mound. 

“However, as it had not been possible to achieve wheelchair access, and therefore not being in line with RIBA core values on accessibility, the awards group felt that it would not be appropriate for it to receive this award.”

The RIBA said in a statement: “Following discussion with the wider awards group, it was agreed that no project would be awarded RIBA Yorkshire Building of the Year 2024. All RIBA jury discussions are confidential.”

The restoration of Clifford’s Tower, which includes a new timber roof and walkways, was praised by RIBA judges for its “quality and the craftsmanship” and for “transforming and preserved the [original] building for future generations.” The scheme, which was designed in collaboration with heritage conservation practice Martin Ashley Architects, was handed the region’s Conservation Award and Client of the Year.

A total of five winning projects picked up awards, including a retail development in Harrogate in North Yorkshire by Arkle Boyce Architects, a grade II* listed brutalist housing scheme by Mickhail Riches and the transformation of Clifford’s Tower in York by Hugh Broughton Architects and Martin Ashley Architects.

The other winning projects were a town hall development in Skipton, North Yorkshire by LDN Architects, a modern low-energy home in Barnsley, South Yorkshire by HEM Architects, Susi Clark and Marc Medland Architect. 

Hugh Broughton Architects and Martin Ashley Architects have been contacted for comment. 


New stairs leading up to the tower