How York Minster is Changing the Wealth Planning Process – Alex McCallion

As an 800-year-old building, York Minster and its Gothic architecture are subject to a complex and continuous cycle of repair, restoration and conservation. So complex in fact, it currently costs £22,000 a day to maintain the cathedral and keep it open to the public.

York Chapter – the governing body responsible for the care of the cathedral – receives no regular source of funding and relies on the generosity of funding bodies and individuals to maintain it.

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With such significant financial pressures, as well as persistent external threats to the Cathedral, such as facing its greatest environmental risk since the Industrial Revolution, it is imperative to ensure a sustainable future for it while preserving its heritage. and its precious history.

Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precincts at York Minster, pictured in the stonecutters’ yard. Photo Tony Johnson.

In 2017, we began exploring ways to create a financially viable strategy that would be implemented through an achievable and sympathetic master plan vision, supporting the Chapter in reorganizing its domain to meet the challenges of the 21st century, including a shift to a low-carbon domain. by 2030.

The impetus is not only to perpetuate the cathedral, but also the surrounding enclosure of more than 60 listed buildings and housing centuries-old techniques in ancient trades such as stone cutting and stained glass making.

The cathedral is hugely important to York, a city notorious for planning and development to navigate, exacerbated by the lack of specific planning policy in the emerging local plan for York. So when it came to assessing a viable route for the future of the cathedral, we had no choice but to forge our own path, albeit in positive partnership with key city stakeholders. .

To help us achieve this goal, we’ve created the York Minster Precinct Neighborhood Forum – made up of people living or working in the Minster Precinct – to create a truly community-led plan that intimately understands the complexities and sensitivities of community planning. future changes in a heritage. framework by creating a planning policy specifically tailored to achieve our vision.

The result was the York Minster Neighborhood Plan: a sustainability-focused roadmap that sets out how the cathedral and its neighborhood will be cared for over the next 15 years.

The plan sets out the largest work program planned for 150 years and will be a key tool in our evolution to a low-carbon fleet over the next eight years.

Neighborhood plans are commonly used by local and municipal councils to shape the town planning process, but ours is a truly unique approach, marking the first time a neighborhood plan has been used to plan the future of a cathedral or a heritage estate.

While this approach is already setting a national precedent and will undoubtedly become a benchmark in how to approach heritage management, its local importance is even more vital. After being approved in a public referendum in early May, the Neighborhood Plan will soon be adopted by York City Council and will not only be used to determine future development applications within the precinct, but will be part of the development plan for the city.

Our vision for the neighborhood plan is that the cathedral and all it offers is not only preserved, but enhanced, aided by the creation of a new public realm, visitor facilities, community space and of a dedicated museum.

One of the first key projects of the plan is the creation of an internationally recognized center of excellence for heritage trades such as stonemasonry and glazing, responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the cathedral. Through the Center of Excellence, we want to create a world-class multidisciplinary campus for research, education and training in ancient craftsmanship, which is essential if we are to ensure environmental, financial and long-term heritage of York Minster.

As looking forward is often just as important as looking back, the center will enable current and potential apprentices to learn cutting-edge digital techniques such as modern saw technology, data digitization and computer aided design. by computer thanks to the research and development project run by the York Minster Fund.

We hope that our Neighborhood Plan approach and proposed Center of Excellence will establish the Cathedral as a leader in partnership-based, community-driven heritage management and conservation.

Louisa R. Loomis