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York Minster marks further sustainability milestone with Deangate retrofit project

18 Apr, 2023

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York Minster has hailed the positive effects of its ground-breaking Neighbourhood Plan as it plans the delivery of its first low carbon retrofit project.

The Neighbourhood Plan sets out a 15-year policy led approach to create a sustainable future for York Minster and its seven-hectare estate.

In the latest positive development for its delivery, plans to sustainably convert and refurbish 1 Deangate in the Minster Precinct have been given the go ahead by City of York Council.

The building will become offices and welfare facilities for the Minster’s Visitor Experience staff and volunteers.

It is the third recent major planning consent for renewable energy projects linked to York Minster’s decarbonisation strategy, following permissions for photovoltaic and solar panels on the roofs of the cathedral’s South Quire Aisle and soon-to-be-launched Refectory restaurant.

With these and the forthcoming Centre of Excellence project, the Minster is set to generate an average of 170,000 kilowatt-hours of power annually, the equivalent of over half of the Minster’s overall use.

The 1 Deangate retrofit project will see the addition of new technology to an older building and include the latest in sustainable design and performance, including real-time energy use, water efficiency equipment and air-source heat pumps.

It will be fully insulated and include a warm room and double-glazed wooden sliding sash windows in keeping with the building’s original architecture.

The Dean of York, the Very Revd Dominic Barrington, said: “The redevelopment of 1 Deangate is another major milestone in our journey towards net zero, with other similar projects set to follow as funding allows.

“Retrofitting our historical buildings is supported by a recent report commissioned by the National Trust, Historic England and other leading property organisations which found that improving the energy efficiency of aged properties could reduce carbon emissions from the UK’s buildings by 5% each year, whilst making them cheaper to run.”

Commenting on the wider Neighbourhood Plan, Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precinct at York Minster, added: “Our Neighbourhood Plan has set a trailblazing approach, not only for planning matters, but crucially for enabling us to safeguard the Minster and to create a sustainable future for both the cathedral building and its surrounding Precinct.

“We are extremely proud of the leading role we are playing in challenging the established narrative around the conservation of historic buildings. Our approach is a shining example of best practice in managing complex heritage estates and how to secure their long-term environmental, financial and heritage sustainability for future generations to enjoy.”

York Minster’s Centre of Excellence for Heritage Craft Skills and Estate Management is the pioneer project in the Neighbourhood Plan. Expected to be completed by mid-2024, it will establish the York Minster Precinct as a world class campus facility for research, education and training in ancient craft skills.

It will bring benefits including continuing the craft of stonemasonry through upskilling its heritage estates team and extending the number of apprenticeship placements the Minster offers. And by forging international partnerships with a network of cathedrals worldwide, it will ensure the specialist skills required to implement necessary and urgent change are in place whilst respecting and protecting the Minster’s history and heritage.

For more information about the York Minster Neighbourhood Plan, visit here.

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