THE saga of York’s new council headquarters has moved closer to conclusion with the sealing of the contract for the civic base.

Now York Investors LLP hopes to start work on transforming a historic city centre railway hub into a 21st-century base for City of York Council before the end of the year.

The team – comprising Buccleuch Property and York-based S Harrison Developments – announced today it had been formally awarded the contract for converting West Offices in Station Rise, the freehold of which it owns, into the authority’s state-of-the-art HQ.

It beat off competition from 11 bidders, finally winning a head-to-head race ahead of insurance giant Aviva’s Yorkshire House, and says local firms will feel the benefit of the project, scheduled for completion by the end of 2012.

The decision to create the HQ in an existing building came after the collapse of the council’s controversial plan for a purpose-built home at Hungate, and while the value of the contract has not been disclosed, the scheme is due to come in within the original £43.8 million budget.

The 13,600 square-metre complex will boast the HQ’s main customer centre, housing staff currently spread across 16 buildings, with a courtyard arrival area also being created.

“This is a landmark development of national significance,” said Buccleuch Property development director Sandy Smith.

“It shows how old and new can combine to provide functional sustainability and still deliver civic style. Our plans respect York’s historic and railway heritage but offer modern, functional, sustainable accommodation which will deliver the operational cost-savings the council is seeking.”

S Harrison Group chairman Martyn Harrison described the project as “a major boost for York” and said: “We have created a first-class design and built a first-class delivery team.

“Our commitment is to use York skills to provide a HQ of which the whole city can be proud.”

The scheme – also involving York firms Crease Strickland Parkins, O’Neill Associates and Martin Design Associates – can be viewed and commented on at York’s Mansion House between 9am and 5pm on Friday, March 5, and between 10am and 3pm the following day, before the spring submission of a planning application.

Information will also be available at and from March 5.