Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Hiscox Insurance boss responds to concerns over proposed new offices in York
THE chairman of an insurance giant that could bring 500 jobs to York has moved to calm concerns about the appearance of company’s proposed new offices.
Hiscox chairman Robert Hiscox has written to The Press following criticism of the artist’s impression of the proposed Hungate building.
His firm is to move into a 24,000 sq ft base on land owned by City of York Council, alongside a new £18 million, 262-bedroom hotel, in the biggest single jobs boost for the city sice 1999. The firm will create 300 jobs initially, possibly with 200 more within five years, and 100 at the hotel.
The £2.15 million sale of the site has been rubber-stamped by councillors, but the initial artist’s impression of the offices was last week criticised in a letter to The Press by Gavin Tulley, who helped York Conservation Trust on restoration projects, and who described it as “appalling” and “totally out of context with the area”.
The design was also questioned by some councillors last week, but Mr Hiscox has moved to reassure critics.
In a letter to The Press, Mr Hiscox said: “I would like to assure him (Mr Tulley) that this is not the final design. We have not begun discussing architectural style with developers and we will be consulting with local planners to ensure it is worthy of York.”
The council has said that while the £2.15 million it will receive for the site is less than its £3.77 million value when the authority bought it, it is higher than a more recent independent valuation.
The Hiscox bid was lower than one of the other three offers to the council, but the authority said Hiscox’s would bring a greater economic boost, potentially as high as £42 million a year by 2026.
Council leader James Alexander said: “This is a huge opportunity for the city and for the council, because Hiscox originally wanted less land than they are now taking, but took more after realising the attractiveness of York and the quality of the supply chain.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Nigel Ayre claimed York taxpayers were “subsidising the deal” because the council will have to borrow £1.6 million at a repayment rate of almost £140,000 a year to cover the difference between the land’s purchase and sale prices.
He said: “If residents had been told this, they may have questioned whether the money would have been better spent protecting frontline services. Labour is racking up the borrowing while cutting basic services.”
Coun Alexander said: “It sounds like they would sooner turn away these job opportunities for York people and continue with their legacy of leaving this prime site derelict, which I find really disappointing.”