City of York Council is marking the successful completion and handover of the historic Guildhall as it hands over the keys to the building to its new leaseholder, the University of York.
The Guildhall complex, which contains a collection of Grade I, II* and II listed buildings built around the 15th century hall and riverside meeting room, which has been a seat of civic governance in York since the 1200s.
The Guildhall works began in September 2019. The once in a generation refurbishment and redevelopment follows a long period where only reactive repairs were carried out; and represents the most significant investment since extensive rebuilding works after the bombing in 1942 that caused serious damage.
The redevelopment of the historic buildings has seen modern elements incorporated around the historic core of the Guildhall, to secure the long-term future of the site: with high quality offices, shared business space and meeting rooms, which will also be available for community use, a café, a new riverside restaurant, and new external areas with better access for local residents.
Councillor Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Finance and Performance, said:
“The investment in the Guildhall manifests our city’s ambitions and aspirations in preserving history whilst at the same time embracing the future. This project has taken one of the most important heritage buildings in the UK, one of York’s best-loved historic sites, and has – through excellent design, thoughtful investment and very high quality construction – built a new chapter in York’s future; innovative, environmentally progressive and accessible to all.
“It’s a building and a legacy that York can be proud of for many years to come.”
Professor Kiran Trehan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Partnerships and Engagement, said:
“Our involvement in this new chapter for the restored Guildhall will allow the University to offer more support and space to local businesses, start-ups, charities and community networks than ever before. It is a fantastic opportunity to drive enterprise, innovation, collaboration and inclusive growth in our City. As a University for Public Good, we are embracing this opportunity to strengthen links with our partners in York and beyond to bring about positive change for our society.”
Rob Henderson, Project Manager at VINCI Building, said:
“We hope that the people of York and visitors to the city can take great pride in the renewed Guildhall. Through the combined hard work and commitment of VINCI staff, our supply partners, the City of York Council and all the project partners involved throughout this interesting and challenging regeneration project, we believe we’ve helped create a very positive legacy for the city.”
Councillor Denise Jeffrey, Chair of the Place, Regeneration and Planning Committee at West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said:
“It’s fantastic that the Guildhall, one of York’s most iconic buildings is now beautifully restored and ready for a new lease of life. While remaining at the heart of local democracy in York, it is now also home to businesses and so embarks on a new path in its long history.
“I am delighted that West Yorkshire Combined Authority has been a part of the restoration and I look forward to seeing the Guildhall flourish.”
Helen Simpson OBE, Chair of the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said:
“This is a significant project which will support economic growth in York and North Yorkshire and shows what can be achieved when we all work together for the good of the region. The redeveloped Guildhall provides a high quality, city centre space for businesses to operate in and brings new life to an important historic building. We’ve seen elsewhere how successful these hubs for businesses can be in accelerating economic opportunities, and we’re sure this site will also flourish.”
The £21.7m construction has seen the building stabilised through major underpinning, protected from water damage and given a new lease of life through a 15 year lease the University of York signed in August 2021, bringing the historic building back to the forefront of the city’s social, business and civic life.
The building is leased to York Science Park (YSPL), a subsidiary of the University of York which specialises in operating business facilities and offers support for entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to grow.
The Guildhall project, has delivered quality office spaces which uses green technology to heat the building, reducing the environmental impact. The facility has the potential to create over 200 jobs in high value sectors, and offers improved public access to the nationally significant building and an estimated £100m boost to the city’s economy over the next 5 years.
Funding for the £21.7m restoration and redevelopment work was provided by City of York Council, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership through respective HMG Growth Deal contributions and the Getting Building Fund.
The project received £2.34 million from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, delivered in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority through the Leeds City Region Growth Deal.
The project received £300,000 from the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership through the Getting Building Fund. This funding supported the office fit-out at the refurbished Guildhall.