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University of York gets the keys to the City’s Guildhall

Posted on 17 May 2022

The University has received the keys to the newly-renovated Guildhall as its 15-year lease of the iconic building begins.

Left to right: Professor Charlie Jeffery, The Lord Mayor of York Chris Cullwick, Councillor Keith Aspden and Professor Kiran Trehan.

The city-centre building has just undergone a £21 million renovation and will be leased to York Science Park (YSPL), a subsidiary of the University of York, which offers support for entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to grow.

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, has been a seat of civic governance in York since the 1200s. 

The renovated building offers high quality office space, spaces for community use, a café, a new riverside restaurant, and better access for local residents.


The University aims to use the building to provide opportunities to promote social enterprise and charitable work for the benefit of the local community. Alongside this it will offer facilities for students, as well as new and existing businesses, to support and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.

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.”


The Guildhall project, which uses green technology to heat the building, reducing costs and environmental impact, delivers quality office spaces with the potential to create an estimated 250 jobs in high value sectors, improved public access to the nationally significant building and an estimated £117m boost to the city’s economy over the next 5 years.

Councillor Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Finance and Performance, said: “The extent of the city’s ambitions and aspirations can be seen in microcosm in this investment in the Guildhall. 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, careful investment and very high quality construction - built a new part of York’s future; innovative, environmentally progressive and better for people. It’s a building and a legacy that York’s people can be proud of for many years to come.”


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.”

Funding for the £21.7m restoration and redevelopment work was provided by York City Council, the York and North Yorkshire LEP and West Yorkshire Combined Authority 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.


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