YORK’S historic Guildhall is embarking on a new chapter as a business and events hub with a riverside restaurant and cafe.

Companies are now moving in following the £21.7m redevelopment, while bookings for the main hall already stretch into 2023.

The restoration aimed to safeguard the future of the building by modernising the facilities and technology, including high-speed internet and a river water source heat pump, while preserving its heritage.

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The Guildhall, on the banks of the River Ouse, is a collection of listed buildings around a 15th century hall and riverside meeting room.

The complex had previously only had reactive repairs and maintenance works since it was extensively rebuilt following the Baedeker raids in 1942.

The restored Guildhall offers high quality offices with the potential to create about 250 jobs in high value sectors. It also has spaces for events such as conferences and weddings while the Guildhall cafe, due to open on June 20, and restaurant are for public use.

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Overlooking the outside riverside terrace from a second-storey office at the Guildhall Picture: Nadia Jefferson-Brown 

The building is being leased to York Science Park, a subsidiary of the University of York, whose team manages a range of spaces and supports business start-ups and growth.

Various workspaces are available to suit different business needs, such as private offices, with 12 month licence agreements, from £300 per month.

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Natasha Guest and Oliver King, of Berwins Solicitors, one of the new tenants.

Co-working spaces, with dedicated desks, are from £250 per month plus VAT, or people can hot desk, as required, from £20 per day.

Meanwhile, monthly membership of a new Business Lounge, a cafe-style area with free tea and coffee, is from £99.

Olivia Chatten, below, business development manager, at York Science Park, which has one of the offices, said there had been strong interest without the need for a big marketing push - testament to the refurbishment and the university's reputation.

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“There are 13 offices in total and 12 of them are taken by nine companies.”

Olivia said it had felt daunting taking on a new office building post Covid but the response had been ‘amazing’, with changing work trends since the pandemic leading many businesses to downsize or opt for more collaborative co-working spaces.

“I could fill it probably three times,” said Olivia, highlighting that several businesses have relocated to York to be at the Guildhall.

“We are bringing more diversity of businesses into the city. They are taking hot desks or co-working desks. Companies in other cities whose staff want to come to York can use the Guildhall as a meeting space for clients, or hot desk for the day.”

Creative, tech and legal businesses are among those moving in, including Berwins Solicitors, who have opened their first York office at the Guildhall. Freelancers and entrepreneurs will also be based there.

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Nadia Bowman and Grace Evans, event coordinators at York Conferences, part of the University of York. Picture: Nadia Jefferson-Brown

Other tenants include Matobo, a cyber security training company which has relocated from Sheffield; Phishing Tackle, another cyber security firm which has moved to York to be at the Guildhall; and Pilot Theatre has moved from York Theatre Royal.

"It is really satisfying to see the businesses so enthused, and it is amazing to support businesses from other parts of the country," said Olivia. "That inward investment is so important."