None of region’s firms make showpiece scheme’s shortlist

COUNCIL chiefs have defended a shortlist of architects to oversee one of the region’s showpiece regeneration projects which does not include a single company from Yorkshire.

A competition launched by York Council to regenerate the city’s historic Guildhall attracted a total of 36 entries from as far afield as Russia, Malaysia and Vietnam - as well as six firms in Yorkshire.

However, a shortlist was revealed yesterday by the council which includes five contenders that are all from the UK - but none from the region.

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Three of the shortlisted companies are London-based firms, while the remaining two are in Edinburgh and Cumbria.

But York Council’s head of design, conservation and sustainable development, David Warburton, confirmed all the schemes were assessed anonymously and stressed the judging panel had no idea who the authors of each entry were.

He added: “Each scheme was shortlisted on design and merit and the five best schemes were selected.”

The Yorkshire Post revealed in September that the council had launched the competition, which is being run by The Royal Institute of British Architects.

Registered architects are asked to develop ideas for the Guildhall and the adjoining office accommodation as well as transforming its river frontage and a nearby boat yard.

The Guildhall faces an uncertain future after York Council plans to vacate the building and move the city’s civic services to a new multi-million pound headquarters by early next year. While the relocation of the authority’s services to the new base at West Offices have sparked fears that centuries of civic history could be lost forever, the move is seen as vital to securing the Guildhall’s future.

The council, which has stressed it will keep the ownership of the Guildhall, is looking to recruit an outside organisation or trust to oversee the running of the site.

The five companies on the shortlist are Architecture & Urbanism Studio, Jak Studio and Robert Loader Architect which are all based in London, and Nicholas Mills Architect from Edinburgh and SEC JV Architects in Cumbria. The six submissions from Yorkshire were from companies in Halifax, Northallerton, Leeds and York.