WORK has started this week on refurbishing York's Guildhall.

The £20 million renovation - carried out by City of York Council and local sub-contractors VINCI Construction UK - will turn the historic site into office space and conference rooms, which the council says will help "attract higher-paid jobs to the city and improve access to local residents".

Part of the south range is also being rebuilt to provide a cafe whilst a new restaurant will be created on the north side of the site.

Following completion, which is scheduled for the spring of 2021, the council has said that the site could bring £117million boost to York's economy over five years.

The plans to transform the site were originally floated back in 2013, with initial proposals predicting that the cost of the project would be around £9million. But at an executive meeting in February, it was confirmed that the building needs more work than expected as surveys revealed structural problems. Construction work is set to cost £16.5 million with the total budget for the scheme at £20.2million.

The development will also bring in an estimated 250 new jobs to the city.

Meanwhile, Waterway and wellbeing charity, Canal and River Trust are supporting the project by enabling VINCI to use the River Ouse to make site deliveries, helping to limit the disruption to residents and tourists. Floating pontoons that travel between the Queen Staith and the Guildhall will be loaded and unloaded with deliveries by VINCI's site tower crane.

Councillor Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Finance and Performance, said: "This is the first significant investment in our Guildhall for 60 years and this extensive restoration will protect the buildings for another 50-60 years. However, it isn’t enough to just restore and secure the building – respecting its heritage means reviving Guildhall’s place in York.

“This will be done by opening up this important building to more of York residents than ever before. It is an exciting step forward for the city, creating 250 additional jobs with a Gross Value Added of £117m over the course of 5 years."

Chris Winspear, Construction Director at VINCI Construction UK, said: "We are very much looking forward to starting construction works and delivering a building that we can all be extremely proud of. It’s an exciting opportunity which will greatly benefit the community and residents of York."