York Science Park Ltd, a subsidiary of the university, will now operate the council-owned, Grade I and II listed site.
Built around a 15th-century main hall, York Guildhall has witnessed various significant events in British history, including the trial of Catholic martyr St Margaret Clitherow in 1586.
When extensive restoration and redevelopment work is completed in late 2021, the building will “become a physical representation of the University of York’s vision for growth in community partnerships” and “and a place to facilitate knowledge exchange”, according to the university. It will provide offices, meeting rooms and conference space for businesses, community groups and social enterprises, as well as a new riverside café and restaurant.
The building will remain open to the public during opening hours for tours and to access the café and will continue to be used for council meetings and other civic events, as well as becoming a venue for university events such as York Festival of Ideas and York Talks.
“It is an exciting time for the University of York to be involved with the next era of the prestigious and historical building that is the Guildhall, right in the heart of the city of York,” said vice-chancellor Professor Charlie Jeffery.
“The renovated Guildhall will offer fantastic opportunities for collaborative working to support business start-ups, drive innovation and growth, and strengthen links between the University of York and partners in York and beyond.
“I look forward to seeing how the facilities at the Guildhall will be used by students and new businesses to support and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, including opportunities to promote social enterprise and charitable work for the benefit of the local community. All of this chimes directly with our commitment, as a University for Public Good, to work with like-minded partners to bring positive impact for our society.”
Sarah Temple of solicitors Lupton Fawcett, who negotiated the lease on behalf of the University of York, said: “This reinvention of the historic city-centre Guildhall complex celebrates the building’s heritage, while creating a unique business facility for York’s many innovative businesses. It was a pleasure to support the York Science Park team and we have no doubt that this latest reincarnation of this ancient building will be a huge success.”
Photo: Cllr Keith Aspden, Professor Kiran Trehan and Cllr Nigel Ayre at the Guildhall, by Gareth Buddo