Major restoration and redevelopment considered for Guildhall

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One of the York’s most prestigious and historically significant buildings could be in line for its first major restoration and redevelopment in over 60 years.

At its meeting next Thursday (14 February), the council’s Executive will be asked to agree to the redevelopment and repair of the Guildhall and approve the appointment of a construction contractor to commence the building works in the Spring/ Summer of 2019.

The Guildhall is a collection of Grade I, II* and II listed buildings – built around the 15th century hall and riverside meeting room. The Guildhall has only had reactive maintenance and repairs since extensive rebuilding works following the Baedeker bombing raids in 1942, which caused serious damage to the buildings.

The £16.5m construction would see the building: stabilised through major underpinning, protected from water damage and given a new lease of life. With modern elements surrounding the historic core, the redevelopment would secure the long term future of the Guildhall site, offering high quality office space, community use, cafe, a new riverside restaurant and better access for local residents.

It is anticipated that the scheme will generate approximately £848k annual income, which can then be reinvested in the city. The scheme has attracted grant funding from West Yorkshire Combined Authority, totalling £2.347m.

Key benefits of the development include:

  • Bringing the Guildhall’s historic business role into the 21st century– creating quality office spaces with the potential to create an estimated 250 jobs in high value sectors.
  • Give the public improved access to the nationally significant heritage – through community use, events and civic meetings.
  • Maximising the economic impact of the Guildhall – creating £848k per annum income and an additional estimated £117m boost to the city’s economy over the next five years. In addition, the construction phase would contribute 50 additional jobs and £7m GVA in total.
  • Using 21st century green technology to heat the building, reducing costs and the environmental impact of the development.

Councillor Ian Gillies, leader of City of York Council, said: “This is the first significant investment in Guildhall for 60 years, and the work will protect the buildings for another 50-60 years.

“It isn’t enough to simply restore the building’s structure – respecting its heritage means restoring Guildhall’s central role in the civic, social and business life of York. This is a significant investment, but it is the right one; for this site of national importance, for York residents, and the city’s economy.”

Councillor Keith Aspden, Executive Member for Economic Development and Community Engagement, said: “Proposals have been developed based on a detailed understanding of the building’s structural issues, a business case which maximises income for the council and the wider city, and opens up this historical building to more York residents than ever before. It is a welcome step forward that this scheme will create 250 additional jobs with a Gross Value Added of £117m over 5 years.”

If approved, the preferred bidder would be appointed this month, with the restoration set to be completed in Autumn 2020.

The report recommends that the Executive agree to the redevelopment of the Guildhall, at an additional cost of £7.372m funded from prudential borrowing identified in the 2019/20 capital budget report,  agree the updated business case for the scheme and approve the appointment of a construction contractor.