York Minster gets planning approval for training centre

The stonemasonry workshop that will be part of the new training centre at York Minster.
York Minster
Visualisation of the stonemasonry workshop that will be part of the new training centre at York Minster. Plans for the development have received planning approval.

Plans by York Minster to establish a world class campus for research, education and training in craft skills such as stonemasonry have been approved by City of York Council.

[Read our earlier report on the proposals here.]

The Minster says the Centre of Excellence for Heritage Craft Skills & Estate Management will be the first-of-its-kind, encouraging learning and knowledge sharing on an international scale.

Comprising a 'Heritage Quad' and a 'Works & Technology Hub', the centre will allow current and prospective apprentices to learn digital techniques such as modern saw technology, data scanning and computer-aided design.

It will also enable the Minster to offer international exchange programmes with cathedrals and universities around the world to enable the further development of these skills.

Existing buildings within the Precinct will be repurposed and renewed to provide new workspace and associated facilities, enable greater interaction with the public around key crafts and trades and allow improved links with education.

The Minster will also be able to offer residential accommodation for its first and second-year apprentices, as well as for its international exchange visitors and trainees.

Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precinct at York Minster, says: “These skills have long been the lifeblood to the fabric of York Minster and the creation of the Centre of Excellence will enable us to continue to develop and pass down these skills with the help of modern digital technology.

“We thank the council for recognising the importance of the Centre of Excellence, the establishment of which will be crucial in allowing us to safeguard the Minster’s long-term environmental, financial and heritage sustainability for future generations to enjoy as we do today.

“This is also a major project for the city and will continue to raise our profile not only as a leading international city for heritage and education, but also a city that is forward looking.”

The £5million fully-funded project is being co-ordinated by the York Minster Fund and is expected to be delivered in early 2024.

The plans form the next stage of the implementation of the York Minster Neighbourhood Plan, a masterplan to secure a sustainable future for York Minster, which was recently ratified by City of York Council.

Delivery of the Neighbourhood Plan will herald the largest planned programme of works at the Minster and its surrounding Precinct since Victorian times.

The York Minster Refectory, Minster Garden and the conversion of Church House to residential accommodation are all already underway, having received planning permission earlier in the year.

Richard Shaw, chairman of York Minster Fund (YMF), says: “The Centre of Excellence is the culmination of a three-year research and development project, which benchmarked the Minster against other heritage sites around the world.

“With sustainability at its heart, the Centre of Excellence vision will allow us to maintain and enhance the cultural significance of the Minster.

“Not only will the Centre of Excellence create opportunities for education and knowledge exchange on a local, national and international level, but it will act as a shining example of best practice in managing and preserving complex heritage estates.”