City's Aspirations

Four key competition themes

City of York Council and its partners are looking for competition entries that deliver against the four key themes set out below:

1. Creating jobs and growing the economy

"Proposals must consider viable uses which are compatible with the retained elements of the site and the proposed interventions."

York has the potential and ambition to be both a nationally competitive and an internationally leading City economy. It is a City that is internationally recognised as one of the most attractive places in the world to live and visit (lonely Planet Ranking of top 200 places in the world to live), but it is also a leading light amongst UK City economies. In fact, York is the third fastest growing City in the country (Centre for Cities 2012 Cities Outlook 2012) and the most resilient economy in the North of England (Ekosgen, 2011).

The City's economy features a growing and dynamic creative and media arts community, and the City is seeking to become an internationally recognised and leading City of Media Arts. York also benefits from industry and research strengths in biosciences and IT and digital technologies, along with a strong financial and professional services sector and a robust tourism, retail and leisure offer.

The City of York Council's number one priority is to create jobs and grow the economy; to this end, the Council has worked with the private sector through the York Economic Partnership to produce the recently published York Economic Strategy 2011 - 2015 to provide a blueprint for this growth. The strategy's ambitions include clear priorities and actions to support a more competitive and globally connected business base, and a world class place in which individuals and business can achieve their full potential.

To create a world class and business friendly place, the City has prioritised the creation of a more dynamic and diverse economic future for the City and particularly the City centre. As high streets across the UK face challenge in retaining high street retail brands, in the face of the rise of out of town development, it is critical that the centre of York retains and indeed builds on its current strengths; by maintaining and developing not only a stronger distinctive and high quality retail offer, but also through use of the City centre for higher value added industries; thereby creating a more resilient footfall, which is not reliant on its retail and tourism draw.

Indeed, the strategy confirms the promotion of the City as a destination for business, and particularly for creative, digital and biosciences. However, a recent study undertaken by DTZ on behalf of Science City York, identified gaps in the commercial property market; specifically grow on space and workshop space for growing small businesses in our key creative growth sectors -creative/media arts and IT/digital.1

Currently there is no focal point or meeting space for the creative industries in the City despite a growing creative network. Re-imagining Guildhall complex and adjacent boat yard offers an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate how heritage assets add value in the creation of a destination for modern business in one of the City's most significant historic buildings

Higher earning, specialist media and technology businesses in particular are willing to pay more for inspirational space in a central location. Proximity to the railway station with fast links to London and the major northern cities further enhances potential. A scheme that attracts particularly high gross value added (GVA) business to the site would offer the crucial benefit of ensuring that the upkeep of the buildings is viably met by the tenants.

Ultimately the use patterns proposed need to be carefully considered, but we highlight here for information options which have already been considered and stress that alternative potentials should also be considered.

2. Connecting River and City

"Proposals should demonstrate how the River and City can be better linked through the site creating a network of routes and public spaces that reflect York's urban form."

The competition site currently suffers from poor access and accessibility, in many ways it is isolated from both the City and the River. It is essential that connections and accessibility are improved with new routes and public space as an integral part of any proposals.

The aspiration for a riverside walkway along this stretch of river originates from A Plan for the City of York dating from 1948 and York has a proud tradition of creating such riverside amenity. New Walk, a tree- lined promenade along the Ouse to the south of the city, was created in the 1730s and more recently the re-fashioning of the riverside walk to the north, beside Museum Gardens (re-named Dame Judi Dench Walk as part of the Millennium celebrations in 2000).

The ambition to make more of the city's rivers was a key recommendation of the York New City Beautiful toward an economic Vision report (Prof. Alan Simpson et al 2010) which suggested the City should maximise the potential of its rivers.

The adjacent and award winning (Civic Trust 2001) Panter Hudspith City Screen development, which has a riverside walkway demonstrates the value of the riverside to commercial premises.

The inclusion of the York Boat Yard is key in this respect. The current York Boat Yard is used for the full range of boat maintenance and servicing activity. However, York Boat recognise that the majority of this activity could be located elsewhere and that this allows for a significant enhancement to the landing and mooring pontoon for their boats, combined with potential for a range of other uses to locate on the riverside, such as café, restaurant and other leisure facilities.

The opportunity to re-open the Common Hall Lane should also be explored and entries should consider whether a riverside route should be continuous or woven into the fabric of the City.

3. A Leading Environmentally Friendly City

"Proposals should demonstrate inherent sustainability by their approach to re-use of the existing buildings and the integration of new built form."

The City of York is committed to being an environmentally friendly, sustainable city. The City has ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. In 2009 the City emitted just under 1.1 million tonnes of carbon. To deliver a low carbon York the City has adopted a Climate Change Framework and Action Plan which aims to:

York has many natural advantages and seeks to ensure that these are only strengthened by any future development proposals. The Council's new headquarters will almost certainly achieve a BREEAM excellent rating on completion and has considerably lower predicted energy consumption than a typical equivalent office development. This is a significant achievement in itself, but remarkable when you consider that this is in the context of the conversion and extension of a Grade II* listed building.

Low carbon, energy efficient buildings are vital to achieving the City's carbon reduction targets by 2020. The council's standards for sustainable design and construction are set out here. The city already has some great examples of cutting edge sustainable developments and seeks another through this competition process. Entries should demonstrate how a zero carbon development can be achieved in this location.

Entries should also demonstrate a response to predictions about York's changing climate and designs should also take account of these likely future changes and incorporate appropriate adaptation measures to ensure the site is resilient in the face of future climate change.

4. Linking Heritage with Innovation

"Proposals should take a holistic design approach for the whole site, recognising both the sensitivity of the context, and the necessity to make contemporary interventions in order to deliver its considerable future potential."

York is internationally known as a historic City. It is a unique place with an unrivalled historic environment, where 2000 years of history are clearly visible in the City today. York's history includes significant Roman, Viking, Medieval, Georgian, Victorian and C20th epochs. It is a world class heritage City with a wealth of archaeology and an outstanding architectural legacy.

This legacy is a direct product of the creativity and innovation that has characterised the City throughout its history.

York has also comprehensively demonstrated to the world both the educational and the commercial advantages to be gained from sympathetic, scholarly yet popular interpretations of the City's past. The Jorvik Viking Centre was a world leader in heritage interpretation when it opened in 1984, and the City's cultural and heritage offer continues to be an important commercial element today.

There is a clear opportunity to link the City's heritage assets with innovation, and strategies to support the development of creative industries that exploit innovative synergies between traditional skills (e.g. crafts and conservation) and the application of new technologies.

The Purcell Miller Tritton options appraisal report was a necessary first step in progressing this agenda for the Guildhall. The Statement of Heritage Significance is key, and the views analysis important in considering the riverside setting. However, the propositions set out in the options appraisal are only indicative. They are options that the council would support, but not exhaustive or precluding of other viable options.

We are now seeking compatible uses patterns and innovative approaches to realise the significant potential of the complex for the future.