Rowntree Park Lodge – A community building project

The Friends of Rowntree Park hosted a Public Consultation on Thursday 28th of September 2023 regarding our plans to create a community space in the former park keepers lodge above the York Explore cafe. The consultation was held in advance of submitting a planning application – which we aim to submit in Autumn 2023.

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You can read the most recent blog regarding the lodge project and the public consultation held at the end of September 2023 here. Many thanks for your continued support for this project.

When:Thursday 28th of September 2023
11am-7pm – Information boards and a chance to speak with the lodge team.
7-9pm – public presentation and question and answer session
Where: Southlands Church.

The Friends of Rowntree Park are excited to announce a landmark event – a public consultation on their visionary proposal to convert the currently vacant former Park Keeper’s Lodge into a dynamic community centre nestled within Rowntree Park.

Scheduled for Thursday, September 21, 2023, this comprehensive daylong consultation will include an illuminating exhibition and a public meeting. The exhibition, hosted at Southlands Church, will feature architectural blueprints, captivating illustrations, innovative business plans, intricate models, and evocative photographs. Doors will be open to visitors from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM, followed by a stimulating public meeting from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, where residents will be presented with an informative presentation and the opportunity to engage with questions.

The Friends of Rowntree Park aims to breathe new life into the disused space above the York Explore Cafe, transforming it into a communal haven. The Lodge has lain dormant since the departure of the last park keeper in 2017. While initial proposals by the council contemplated utilising the building for short-term rentals through platforms like Airbnb, this met with significant opposition from the community.

The Friends have diligently crafted plans for a community space that harmonises with the park’s ethos and its diverse uses. Encompassing disabled access and toilets, sympathetic refurbishments, and environmentally conscious heating options, the design reimagines former residential spaces as areas for public engagement. The adaptable rooms could host group meetings, exhibitions, and a range of intimate events. Moreover, the project will finally provide the Friends of Rowntree Park with a much-needed indoor office and meeting space, catalysing the expansion of their charitable initiatives.

Cath Mortimer, Chair of the Friends of Rowntree Park, shared her enthusiasm: “This project is a remarkable leap towards the future of Rowntree Park and our entire community. Our resources are limited, making grants and donations pivotal for funding. With planning permission as our next step, we are eager to embark on earnest fundraising.”

Abigail Gaines, Charity Manager, added, “Beyond maintaining and enhancing the park’s physicality, the Friends of Rowntree Park oversee crucial projects such as mental health programs, engaging children’s events, collaborations with local schools, and creative endeavours like ‘Art in the Park’ and ‘Make Space for Girls.’ An indoor base within the park would be transformative for our charity, enabling substantial expansion.”

The public consultation is strategically scheduled before the submission of the planning permission application. Aspirations are set high, targeting the unveiling of the versatile community space within Rowntree Park by early 2025. While the project primarily relies on grants and donations, City of York Council will contribute significantly for essential remedial work, mainly asbestos removal between the café and the Park Keeper’s Lodge.

Driven by a commitment to community well-being, the Friends are ardent about utilising the building effectively and making it a community asset. Fears of prolonged vacancy leading to deterioration or vandalism motivate their swift action. Drawing on a poignant example, in 2016, the West Bank Park Lodge faced a similar fate of fire and subsequent demolition due to extended vacancy. The Friends of Rowntree Park, however, are confident that an indoor community space will invigorate the park and enrich the community, a future they eagerly anticipate.


Further information contact:-

Johnny Hayes


Abigail Gaines -Charity Manager  – 

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