29 Castlegate remains empty

29 Castlegate – £1/4 million repair bill

One of the properties owned by the Council which has remained empty and unused for a long period of time – 29 Castlegate – looks like it will remain so indefinitely. Budget provision to upgrade the property – which occupies a key position next to Fairfax House – is being taken out of this year’s programme.

Apparently a decision, on the future of the building, will be taken at a meeting next month.

The property, which most recently accommodated a youth support centre, was to have been sold, with the York Civic Trust the most likely occupant. That deal fell through amidst claims that the Council were not getting “best value” for the property.

 The Council now says that the refurbishment work cannot start until the next financial year. £270,000 has been allocated for repairs to the building

It remains unclear why the Council did not try to sell the property on the open market and why no attempt has been made to find at least a temporary use for what is a prime site.

Guildhall refurbishment runs into difficulties

A report to a meeting taking place next week highlights several issues which could delay the refurbishment of the Guildhall.

The Guildhall project has a chequered history with plans for the use of the building conceived 10 years ago beset by delays, indecision and escalating costs. Even after the Council made the controversial (and expensive) decision to re purpose the use of the Listed building as a “business club” & restaurant, the first building contract had to be abandoned.

More recently, new contractors have been working on site. They have been using the river for access. Perhaps not surprisingly the recent floods have impeded operations but worryingly the report reveals several other issues which have caused delays.

The report concludes that overall the project is now regarded as “at risk”.

The biggest risk to taxpayers remains the end use of the site. The Council is borrowing heavily to fund the project and any delay could affect its – already marginal – viability. There is a real danger that the Guildhall project will go the way of the Community Stadium for which there is still no agreed opening date (it was to have been completed last summer).

It is further evidence that the York Council has exceeded its contract management capability.

Hopefully they will now pull back from taking on  any further projects (like Castle/Piccadilly) and concentrate available resources on finishing what they have already started.

Volunteers refurbish Foxwood Lane kiddies play equipment

Nice to see the play equipment in the playground on Foxwood Lane being spruced up today. According to social media the volunteers who did the work were from the Food Standards Agency.

We’re hoping that the Council will ensure that repairs to playgrounds generally are undertaken quickly.

In addition it would be nice to see at least one piece of play equipment renewed each year. This would give children something new to look forward to while minimising the upheaval of complete modernisation every 20 years.

York’s newly restored Mansion House attracts 1000 visitors

Visitors have flocked to see inside York’s newly restored Mansion House after it opened its doors for the first time last weekend [2-3 December].

Over 1,000 people visited the house following a £2.6m restoration project to make the history of the Mansion House even more accessible to York residents and visitors.

The house will now be open every day [except Mondays and Tuesdays] until Saturday 23 December, giving people more opportunities to see the house fully dressed for Christmas, complete with decorative garlands and a 10ft Christmas tree.

Councillor Keith Orrell, Interim Executive Member for Economic Development and Community Engagement, City of York Council, said: “York Mansion House really comes into its own at this time of year and the house looks really beautiful dressed for Christmas. I hope that local residents will take the opportunity to see for themselves the marvellous retoration work – the biggest since the house was finished in 1732 – and find out more about the unique history of York’s Mansion House than ever before.”

The resoration includes a new-look exterior, with a brick-coloured facade and a polychrome crest – a colour scheme voted for by York residents in 2016 – and thought to be similar to how the Manison House would have looked in the 1890s. (more…)

York’s Register Office to temporarily close for refurbishment


York Register Office 56 Bootham, 

York’s Register Office will temporarily close early next year (7 January – 9 March) while the building undergoes a programme of refurbishment.

Residents will be able to register births, deaths and statutory marriage ceremonies at the council’s West Offices Headquarters during the temporary closure. Registrars will also be based at York Hospital and at the city’s children’s centres, making it easier to register deaths and births.

Wedding ceremonies will take place at York Mansion House or Bedern Hall during the closure period, while the monthly citizenship ceremonies will be held at the Mansion House.

The refurbishment will see the creation of a new ‘bride room’ where brides can chat to the registrar and prepare themselves for the ceremony; an improved reception area; a second, ground-floor ceremony room, and an additional interview room, which will enable the office to carry out more appointments.

Cllr Ann Reid, Interim Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism, City of York Council, said: “We’re really excited about the programme of refurbishment, which will make the facilities at the Register Office even better for our customers and staff.
“We hope that the temporary relocation of registration services to West Offices, in addition to registrars being located at York Hospital and children’s centres, will ensure that we can continue to provide a first class service for York residents.”

Contact information for York Register Office will not change during the relocation. Call 01904 654477, or email registrar@york.gov.uk.

Emergency contact is also available from 10.00am to 11.00am on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays (not Christmas Day), should people need to contact the team about an emergency funeral for religious reasons; please telephone: 0778674859.

The Register Office will reopen on Saturday 10 March.

Local companies encouraged to bid for Guildhall refurbishment work

Local companies can get into pole position for contracts on the £9m Guildhall redevelopment at a special event tomorrow Tuesday. (28 November).

City of York Council has appointed main contractor Interserve, who will be working in partnership with York-based M&E contractor SES Engineering Services, to transform the complex into a world-class civic and business venue.

Part of Interserve’s winning bid involved a commitment to using local suppliers. Now they want to meet the local construction companies who can help to deliver the high quality and best value redevelopment of the listed building.

There are opportunities for any construction-based companies and suppliers such as roofing, scaffolding, dryliners, demolition, groundworks, joinery, plastering, steelwork, masonry, heritage specialists, decorators, glazers, floorers, fire safety, lighting, mechanical, electrical wholesalers and more.

You can meet the team and find out more about available contracts and work on the scheme at the ‘Meet the Buyer’ event, which runs from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at West Offices.

Businesses can register their interest here (click): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/york-guildhall-meet-the-buyer-tickets-39832969484


Yuletide at York Mansion House: A festive preview at the re-furbished house

York residents and visitors are being invited to take a sneak preview at York’s newly restored Mansion House this festive season.

Fully dressed for the Christmas period – complete with decorative garlands and a 10ft Christmas tree – the Mansion House will open its doors to the public for the first time since its £2.6m restoration, on the first weekend in December (Saturday 2 – Sunday 3 December).

As well as seeing the new-look Mansion House restored to its former glory, visitors will also be able to find out more about Christmas culinary specialities through the ages with food historan and broadcaster, Dr Annie Gray.

Younger visitors will also be able to write a letter to Father Christmas, and hand it over to the Lord Mayor, Councillor Barbara Boyce, for her to send on to the North Pole, receiving some chocolate treats for their efforts.

Richard Pollit, Mansion House Curator, said: “This is the first chance visitors will get to have a look at the incredible outcome of the resoration project. We’re so excited to open the doors to the public for the first time and are really looking forward to welcoming our first visitors.”

Councillor Keith Orrell, Interim Executive Member for Economic Development and Community Engagement, City of York Council, said: “York Mansion House is a beautiful building at any time of the year, but during the Christmas period it really take centre stage in the city. I hope that local residents will take this opportunity to see for themselves the marvellous retoration work – the biggest since the house was finished in 1732 – and find out more about the unique history of York’s Mansion House than ever before.”

The restoration includes a new-look exterior, with a brick-coloured facade and a polychrome crest – a colour scheme voted for by York residents in 2016 – and thought to be similar to how the Manison House would have looked in the 1890s.

The Mansion House will be officially re-opened on 27 January 2018 (Residents’ First Weekend), when visitors will be able to see the newly curated silver galleries for the first time.

York residents can get half price entry to the Mansion House with a York Card or proof of residence (such as a Council Tax bill). Full price entrance is £6.50 for adults, £5 for concessions and £3.50 for children. The house is open every day (except Mondays and Tuesdays) between 10.30 and 5pm until Saturday 23 December.

More details are available at www.mansionhouseyork.com. Tickets are now available and can be purchased by clicking here 

The ‘Opening Doors’ restoration project was made thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), funding from City of York Council and a variety of grants and generous donations totalling £2.6 million. The project sought to improve the visitor experience by beautifully restoring this gem of York’s architectural history, allowing more people than ever to enjoy it.

Mansion House renovation behind schedule?

Mansion House 1729

Further delays in reopening the Mansion House in York, following restoration works, are forecast.

In December last year the media reported that local building company William Birch had taken over from Ainlays when the latter entered administration. The expectation was that the new arrangements would mean a delay of around 12 months on the original reopening date.

The Council said that the Mansion House would reopen in “mid-summer”.  It later confirmed 25th June as the completion date for building work

As we enter October, scaffolding still surrounds the building with no immediate prospect of reopening apparently in sight.

The Mansion House closed in September 2015 when the then Lord Mayor, for a while, appeared to refuse to leave the building pending the provision of an alternative residence.

Subsequent Lord Mayors have also not had access to the building.

Now the £9 million, 2-year, refurbishment project at the adjacent Guildhall is due to get underway, further limiting access to the House.

The last edition of the Mansion House newsletter (Opening Doors) was published in March.

Their website talks of a “reopening in late 2017”.

The restoration work is costing £1.6 million.

York Mansion House restoration project restarts

No completion date given by York Council

Mansion House Sept 2016

Mansion House – proposed appearance.

Work has recommenced at the Mansion House, to make sure that key external elements of the restoration works will be completed before the onset of winter.

These include:

  • · Essential repairs to the chimney stacks, to bring them up to appropriate standards, with the flues being vital to the future ventilation of the building, under its new conservation system
  • · Removal of old paint from the facade, using a special paint stripper causing the upper layers of paint to flake and appear to ‘melt’, giving way to an unusual ‘organic’ look to the building. Interestingly, when applied to the city crest, this work has revealed the many varying colours to the foliage details over the years. This process is no way damaging to the underlying brick and stone and brings many of the otherwise blurred details into sharp focus.

Since 1750 the house has been painted 47 times. In August 2016 the public voted on the colour of the facade which will be a brick colour and stone with a coloured crest. The design is that of the Mansion House from the 1890’s.

Councillor Keith Aspden, Deputy Leader of City of York Council said: “We are very pleased that the external works are now continuing. These works are essential to the project and have given us an interesting glimpse into the buildings past.

“The Mansion House is an important historic building in the city and we are committed to delivering this project.”

The Mansion House is undergoing renovation in its biggest investment since building was completed in 1732. The works were made possible after the Mansion House received a grant of £1,198,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), as well as funding from City of York Council and donations to the restoration fund. It is anticipated that the Mansion House will fully re-open to the public next year.

The restoration works stalled three months ago when the building contractor William Anelay went into administration

York’s public conveniences’ refurbishment set to start

Work on a £663,000 refurbishment of York’s public conveniences starts on Monday

The contractor Healthmatic will take over the refurbishment and maintenance of facilities in the city centre and Acomb to both improve cleanliness and disabled access, while making required savings of £75,000.

Work at the Union Terrace car and coach park will start on Monday 24 March, and temporary facilities will be installed next door, with no charge for entry during refurbishment.

Acomb toilets

Acomb toilets

At Nunnery Lane car park, work will start on Monday 31 March. The men’s facilities will remain open and the night-time toilet and accessible toilet will be temporarily available for women, again with no charge for entry during refurbishment. Both projects will complete in early May.

Upgrading will take place at the public toilets on Acomb’s Front Street, Coppergate, Exhibition Square, Tanner Row and those at the car parks on Nunnery Lane and St George’s Field. Besides improvements to the Silver Street toilets which already includes a Changing Place disabled facility, an additional Changing Place will be built as part of the refurbishment at Union Terrace car park’s toilets.