York Minster’s Pioneering Centre of Excellence Plans Receive Council Approval

York Minster’s plans to establish world class campus facilities for research, education and training in ancient craft skills have been approved by City of York Council.

The Centre of Excellence for Heritage Craft Skills and Estate Management will be a first-of-its-kind project encouraging learning and knowledge sharing on an international scale.

Comprising a Heritage Quad and a Works and Technology Hub, the Centre of Excellence will allow current and prospective apprentices to learn cutting-edge 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 as far afield as Milan, Washington and Singapore, to enable the further development of these skills.

Existing buildings within the Precinct will be sustainably reordered, repurposed and renewed to provide new workspace and associated facilities, enable greater engagement and interaction with the public around key crafts and trades and allow improved links with education. Through this, the Minster will also be able to offer dedicated 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, said: “We are delighted that our pioneering plans for preserving the ancient craft skills necessary to secure the future of the Minster have received approval from City of York Council. 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 City of York 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 £5m 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, an ambitious 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 the Victorian era. The York Minster Refectory, Minster Garden and the conversion of Church House to residential accommodation are all underway, having received planning permission earlier in the year. 

Richard Shaw, Chairman of York Minster Fund (YMF), said: “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 also act as a shining example of best practice in managing and preserving complex heritage estates.

“We are delighted that the City of York Council is supporting this project and we are pleased to announce that purchase orders worth over £600,000 have now been placed for key machinery to be housed in the Technology Hub.”

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