The University of York is planning to take a 15 year lease of one of York’s most prestigious historic buildings, creating a City centre hub for business, enterprise and events.
The lease, which is to be considered by City of York Council’s Executive on 26 November, will be taken over through York Science Park Ltd, a subsidiary of the University and City of York Council, which has been providing support and facilities to businesses for nearly 30 years.
The Guildhall complex is owned by City of York Council and is made up of Grade I, II* and II listed buildings built around a 15th-century main hall. It is currently closed for restoration and redevelopment work, which is due to be completed in late 2021 and will provide offices, meeting rooms and conference space, a café and a separate riverside restaurant unit.
The scheme of work also includes equipping the Guildhall with a River Water Source Heat Pump to provide a sustainable green energy, lowering running costs and reducing its carbon emissions.
The University says the new space will enable it to bring the support it offers to local business and enterprise into the heart of York, driving inclusive and sustainable growth in the City as it recovers from the pandemic.
Within the Guildhall, the University will provide flexible workspace and business support for entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to locate, invest and grow in York. By working In close collaboration with partners including; Make it York and City of York Council, the University will offer opportunities for businesses to start, innovate and grow through incubator, accelerator and scale up facilities.
The Guildhall will remain open to the public for tours and will continue to be used for Full Council and other Civic events, also providing meeting space for community groups and social enterprise as well as a venue for University events such as York Festival of Ideas and York Talks.
Professor Kiran Trehan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Partnerships and Engagement, said: “By working closely with City of York Council and our other City partners we aim to develop and nurture a thriving cluster of businesses and establish a greater University presence in the City centre.
“A crucial part of the University’s civic mission as an institution for public good is to support local business and community networks, and as we rebuild and recover from the pandemic the Guildhall will enable us to provide more expertise and training to help our regional businesses and charities to recover, innovate and grow.
“This new centre for business will also help to further foster a culture where students and staff are inspired and supported to realise entrepreneurial ambition, through student enterprise, enterprise fellowships, commercialisation and enterprise research.”
Cllr Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Finance and Performance, said: “The Guildhall has been at the centre of our city’s business and civic life for centuries and the restoration works will ensure it remains a key asset for supporting our city’s businesses and making York an even better place to live and work in the twenty first century.
“As part of the council’s asset management strategy, which is being discussed at an Executive meeting this month, securing the future use of the Guildhall will help the city nurture and attract talent and allow York businesses to start, grow and stay in the city. We have seen a growing appetite for this in recent years and are confident that this new hub of activity will be well received by the city.”
When the Guildhall reopens in 2021 it is estimated that up to 160 jobs in high value sectors will be created.
Professor Trehan added: “Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we are expecting the way we use office spaces in the future to change and become more creative and flexible. That is why our focus will be on setting up spaces that can be used to collaborate, share ideas and innovate. The Guildhall will be operated as a flexible business centre with an emphasis on sustainability and the health and wellbeing of the people working there.”