Plans for major upgrade of York's Bar Convent

James Foster, general manager of the Bar Convent, York, which is to undergo a big revamp

James Foster, general manager of the Bar Convent, York, which is to undergo a big revamp

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PROPOSALS for a major revamp of York's historic Bar Convent have been submitted to council planners.

One project involves a refurbishment and modernisation of visitor of the convent's museum, so it can better tell the story of Mary Ward, a pioneer of women's education whose ideas inspired the founding of the convent in 1686.

The museum will also aim to tell of the important role that the convent's Sisters still play in the modern world and the upgrade is also set to make the building accessible to all visitors, especially those with limited mobility,

A separate application has also been submitted for the convent's bed and breakfast facilities to be modernised, including the provision of more family en suite accommodation, air conditioning and secondary glazing.

A report submitted to the council by the Bar Convent Trust says the current B & B provides a substantial proportion of the income needed to support both the upkeep of the buildings and the community of Sisters.

But it warns: "While the Trust wishes to maintain and retain as much of the heritage, ethos and values of the community, they have been experiencing significant competition from better equipped and modernised local bed and breakfast facilities.

"The Trust therefore wishes to upgrade their property to improve the level of ensuite facilities to compete on a more equal footing and to increase the number of their family suite accommodation."

It adds that with a significant addition in visitor numbers anticipated, the office and shop need to be re-located, an internal lobby door needs to be provided to improve the environment within the atrium area, and a platform lift is needed to aid 'vertical access' within the museum.

The museum and accessibility upgrade are part of a £2 million Living Heritage Project which was launched almost a year ago and has already raised almost £700,000.

A series of fundraising events is planned for this autumn, beginning when the convent takes part for the first time in the national Heritage Open Days scheme next week. The convent will be staging tours and various activities on Friday September 12 and the morning of Saturday September 13.

If permission is granted, the revamp is due to start next spring and be completed by the autumn.

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