This is what the former Minster School and grounds could look like, under plans revealed today.
York Minster plans to turn the school into a café, open to residents and visitors.
And it will turn the school grounds into a public space, complete with biodiverse plants to encourage wildlife – and, of course, spectacular views of the cathedral.
The café, called the York Minster Refectory, will be a “a viable and sustainable business” to raise funds to care for the cathedral.
“Unlike many other cathedrals, the Minster has no dedicated space to offer refreshments to visitors and no welcome centre for orientation and tickets,” documents say.
The Refectory will include a coffee bar and seating and kitchens on the ground floor, plus a lounge, more seating and toilets on the first floor.
The conversion will see the full restoration of the building, including cleaning and repairs to the stonework to reveal previously hidden architectural features.
Solar panels and disabled access will be added, along with hard landscaping “designed to link the refectory and the public space, both physically and visually, to the glorious views of the Minster’s South Transept and Quire”.
Minster School closed last year after it became financially unviable.
The lawn area will stay turfed and offer a place for families to relax.
New plants will encourage biodiversity, including bees and other pollinators, and “encourage the presence of birds and foraging bats found within the Minster Precinct by increasing the availability of food”.
“By opening up the grounds of the former school, York Minster will give the city a new green space at the centre of town for visitors, residents and workers to relax end enjoy the magnificent surroundings,” say the plans.
“The open lawn will provide space to enjoy views to the Minster in a calm and tranquil environment, bolstered with new planting.”
The proposals follow three years of consultations over the York Minster Neighbourhood Plan.
Now people can comment on the plans (see panel).
The Dean of York, the Right Revd Dr Jonathan Frost, said: “The realisation of this first set of project proposals is the result of three years of collaborative community effort and a strong, shared sense of realism about the solutions that will be needed to make the York Minster Precinct viable and sustainable to 2035 and well beyond that date.
“The proposals for this refectory and the public space adjacent to it, respect the Minster and its history and its purpose as a place of worship and welcome.
“The plans are highly creative and innovative and aim to breathe new life into the building and open spaces in a way that is inclusive, sustainable, economically viable and, which meets the needs of York residents and our visitors.
“I want to encourage as many people as possible to comment on the proposals and help us to make the best decisions for the future of this special corner of the York Minster Precinct.”
Have your say
The public consultation on the design proposals will be available on the York Minster website from Friday 21 May until midnight on Sunday 13 June.
The proposals will also be displayed on boards outside the Minster School over the same period. However due to ongoing pandemic restrictions, comments on the consultation can only be made online and should be emailed to Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precinct [email protected]