A HUB for creative industry is being created in York as part of a £500,000 refurbishment project at a city-centre hotel.
The owners of Lady Anne Middleton’s Hotel, in Skeldergate, which boasts the largest plot of independently owned land within the city walls, are transforming unused buildings on the site into office accommodation for the creative and digital sector.
The initiative has already welcomed its first business after York-based digital design agency The Distance moved into newly revamped office space above Emperor’s Gym.
Creating a dedicated centre for digital and creative businesses has long been on the agenda for City of York Council, with plans announced in 2012 to convert the former Bonding Warehouse.
However, the plans were scrapped, with the Guildhall now earmarked for a £1.4 million centre.
The need for office space dedicated to the industry was also recognised by hotel owner Henny Clark, who has moved quickly on establishing a private-sector-led hub.
Ms Clark, who is the second generation of the Clark family to run the hotel, said: “Since my parents opened a hotel here in 1973 we have grown, and our site encompasses a number of Grade II listed buildings. My view of the whole site now is rather than seeing it only as a hotel. We are landlords of all the property here, which has huge potential.
“I was aware of the fact we had buildings not used by the hotel, and we have a prime city-centre location, so I put the two together to create the goal of making a creative quarter.
“I want the site not just to be a place for tourists but also for the local community and local creative businesses.
“It is fantastic to have our first tenants in, and I’m looking forward to welcoming other businesses in the sector.”
Ms Clark, whose background is in art and textiles, is also working to open the Brick Yard Gallery on the site – a gallery providing exhibition space for local artists.
The new creative industry hub is served by superfast broadband after York Data Services worked on providing a connection to the York Core fibre.
Ryan Atkins, co-founder of The Distance, said: “The idea of a creative industry centre has been out there for a while now. However, Henny has really taken it on and put that idea into practice.
“The space they have created for us here is fantastic. We really see this as our long-term home.
“It’s a fantastic location, with great surroundings, which enables us to recruit creative talent from outside the city as we offer an attractive place to work in a very commutable location.
“We started out at the Springboard at York Science Park, and as a young business really benefited from a network of neighbouring businesses.
“As this hub grows here we hope we can act as an inspiration and support other new businesses as they join us here, and look forward to seeing what other businesses join us here.”
The digital hub is being created as Lady Anne Middleton’s is undergoing a transformation, including a rebranding to become Middleton’s Hotel.
The £500,000 investment has seen work completed on a number of areas at the hotel, including bedroom refurbishment, new outdoor space, and a new kitchen and dining area.