PLANS for the former Minster School to be turned into a York Minster Refectory have been submitted.

Under the scheme a new public park would be created at Minster Yard and the former school would become a cafe and restaurant.

A consultation launched before the planning application was submitted to City of York Council found that the majority of people supported the plans, according to a report, with the main issues raised being cycle parking, maintaining cycle access and calls for a vegetable garden. All of these plans have been incorporated into the plans where possible.

The area outside the former school would be landscaped and could feature outdoor seating, an ice cream hut and cycle service hut.

The Minster has also outlined plans for the first solar panels to be installed anywhere in the precinct to be put up at the former school - saying in a statement that there is a “moral duty” to include them.

The building will be made accessible to disabled people and landscaping will include the creation of a sensory garden.

A covering letter accompanying the application says: “A principal part of the [Neighbourhood] Plan is the creation of a new refectory and public park.

“It costs £22,000 a day to run and care for York Minister and its precinct and the income generated through the refectory will contribute towards these costs.

“The proposals include important new elements such as the creation of disabled access throughout the building and the installation of solar panels - the first anywhere in the precinct and something we feel a moral duty to include within these proposals."

The Minster School closed last summer following financial difficulties that were worsened by the pandemic. Since its closure, the school building has remained vacant.

In June York Minster’s annual accounts revealed the impact of the pandemic on its finances, showing a £2.3 million loss.

The Dean of York, the Rt Revd Dr Jonathan Frost, said the "unprecedented financial and economic emergency" caused by Covid-19 had also resulted in the departure of 55 "valued colleagues from the Minster’s staff community".

A statement by Savills as part of the refectory planning application warns: “There is no doubt that in order to continue the restoration efforts and ensure a viable and sustainable business to underpin the care of the Minster, the development of new income streams is crucial.

“The alternatives to not implementing the key Neighbourhood Plan projects are that the Minster will face a financial cliff in terms of its funding, which will drastically affect the ability to continue with its important restoration work and ultimately put a series of long standing and internationally important heritage assets at risk.”

The restaurant is set to create 25 full time and 20 part time jobs with plans for a possible apprenticeship scheme under discussion.

To view the application visit reference 21/01535/FUL.