One of York’s most historically significant buildings will begin its first major restoration in over 60 years this September.
City of York Council’s Executive have agreed the funding to undertake vital restoration and redevelopment of the Guildhall, offering high quality office space, community use and a new riverside restaurant, which will help attract higher paid jobs to the city and improve access for local residents.
The Guildhall is a collection of Grade I, II* and II listed buildings – built around the 15thcentury hall and riverside meeting room. The Guildhall thus far, has only received reactive maintenance and repairs since extensive rebuilding work was carried out following the Baedeker bombing raids in 1942.
The council have now appointed construction contractor, VINCI Construction UK, to carry out the works. VINCI Construction UK is a specialist construction, civil engineering and facilities management company, with a wealth of experience and expertise in all sectors. VINCI will provide the opportunity to add real value to this exciting project including innovation, creativity along with technological mastery.
Waterway and wellbeing charity, Canal & River Trust are the navigation authority for the River Ouse. The Trust is supporting the project by enabling VINCI to use the waterway to make site deliveries, helping to limit the disruption to residents and visitors in York city centre. Floating pontoons that travel between the Queens Staith and the Guildhall will be loaded and unloaded with deliveries by VINCI’s site tower crane.
More recently, surveys have revealed significant structural problems with the tower on the north side of the site, which is currently subsiding and cracking. Furthermore, the main roofs are also in need of replacement to prevent further water ingress.
The construction will 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.
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 following completion and an estimated £117m GVA 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.
The project received £2.347 million from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP), delivered in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, through the Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1 billion package of government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.
The Guildhall is expected to reopen in Spring 2021.
Councillor Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Finance and Performance, said: “This is the first significant investment in our Guildhall for 60 years and this extensive restoration will protect the buildings for another 50-60 years. However, it isn’t enough to just restore and secure the building – respecting its heritage means reviving Guildhall’s place in York.
“This will be done by opening up this important building to more of York residents than ever before. It is an exciting step forward for the city, creating 250 additional jobs with a Gross Value Added of £117m over the course of 5 years.”
Chris Winspear, Construction Director at VINCI Construction UK, said: “We are very much looking forward to starting construction works and delivering a building that we can all be extremely proud of. It’s an exciting opportunity which will greatly benefit the community and residents of York”.
Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the LEP, said: “The Guildhall is one of York’s most fascinating historical buildings which was once at the heart of the city’s bustling business community.
“The ambitious restoration plans put forward will ensure the Guildhall is fit for modern-day business needs and allow it, once again, to be at the heart of enterprise by catering to the needs of those entrepreneurs and SMEs that are driving forward the local economy.
“This is yet another example of how the Combined Authority and the LEP are working together with our partner councils to ensure Growth Deal investment is targeted at the projects that will make a real difference to people living, working and studying in the Leeds City Region.”