A MAJOR £21.7 million restoration project at York’s historic Guildhall has finally been finished.

City of York Council said it was “delighted” to confirm that the work had been completed, adding that the buildings were now ready to “support local businesses and drive economic growth in the heart of the city”.

Planning and Listed Building consent for the scheme was secured in 2017 and restoration and redevelopment work began in September 2019.

However, the project faced delays caused by high river levels, a shortage of some materials resulting from the pandemic and the discovery of historic human remains.

Following the completed restoration, the building will be leased to York Science Park (YSPL), a subsidiary of the University of York, helping to support local entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to grow.

Councillor Keith Aspden, leader of City of York Council, said: “The Guildhall is one of York’s and the region’s most historically significant buildings and I am pleased to see this great asset restored for the city.

“The investment in the Guildhall means that the complex will once again play an important role in the city’s future for years to come, with excellent facilities for businesses and local residents to benefit from.

“I would like to thank the efforts of staff and partners, who have worked tirelessly throughout the course of the pandemic to help deliver this project.”

Councillor Nigel Ayre, executive member for finance and performance at City of York Council, said: “The council has made a major contribution to secure the long-term future of the Guildhall via this restoration project and we are proud to be custodians of such a nationally important building in the city.

“Crucially, we have been able to preserve the historic character of the building, whilst also redeveloping the building for business, social and civic uses. The Guildhall will be accessible for local residents for the first time in many years, with tours and open days taking place next month, offering an opportunity for people to take a look inside.”

The refurbishment work was carried out by VINCI Construction UK.

Chris Winspear, regional director at VINCI, said: “It has been an honour to take on this once-in-a-generation project and the resulting transformation is testament to the successful partnership working between City of York Council, the design team, ourselves and our supply chain. There have been some extraordinary engineering and logistic challenges to overcome and our team are very proud in what they have accomplished. It’s been a delight returning the Guildhall to its former glory, whilst repurposing it for 21st Century use.”

The council says the focus will now be on furnishing so the building can fully reopen in May.

As part of the reopening, a series of tours and open days will take place so people can see the restoration for themselves.