Ambitious proposals have been unveiled to redevelop three buildings on Rougier Street, in York City Centre, and replace them with an iconic mixed use development including a globally unique Roman visitor attraction.
York-based developers, North Star in partnership with York Archaeological Trust and Native, plan to knock down the Northern House, Rougier House and Society Bar and replace it with a new hotel, offices, apartments and the world class tourist attraction.
The development will be called The Roman Quarter and will add to the renaissance of this part of the City Centre following major regeneration in recent years including the Council’s West Offices, The Grand Hotel, Hudson Quarter, the new Malmaison Hotel and Roman House. The proposals will also feature new public realm around the site and complement the planned improvements at York Railway Station.
As part of the plans, the former roman road will be reinstated to reinvigorate this part of the City. It will connect Tanner Street with Tanner’s Moat and will form a key part of the new attraction.
The emerging proposals for the new 235,000 sq ft building will include a 145 bed hotel, 228 apartments, 33,000 sq ft for the new Roman attraction, along with 15,500 sq ft for new cafes, retail and restaurants.
York Archaeological Trust, which developed the JORVIK Viking Centre following the Coppergate dig in the late 1970s and early 1980s, will conduct a two year dig of the site, prior to building work starting. The dig will be one of the largest of its kind in the UK, and is expected to be especially significant given the waterlogged ground conditions which preserved so much organic matter at Coppergate. With artefacts expected to date from 2000 years ago, and trial pits revealing the potential for major discoveries, significant Roman finds will be displayed in the new basement visitor attraction.
The once-in-a-generation dig itself will have significant public benefit, creating excitement and engagement amongst York residents and visitors alike, as the layers of history are peeled back, and the public will be invited to share in the excitement as items are unearthed. The archaeology alone will provide a significant positive impact for the local economy, driving national and international tourism, and providing global exposure for the city. This will continue when the completed attraction – which will be double the size of JORVIK Viking Centre - opens. Early predictions suggest it will receive around half a million visitors per year, adding £20 million to York’s economy.
David Jennings, CEO York Archaeological Trust commented:
“This is a unique opportunity to understand York’s origins and find out more about how the City developed. The location, next to the original Roman crossing of the River Ouse, and the scale of the dig site makes us anticipate very exciting discoveries that link Roman Eboracum with York’s future. Items discovered in similar ground conditions in Coppergate helped change the world’s perception of the Vikings and made York world-renowned. The chance to do the same for the Romans makes this one of the most exciting projects in the world. Here, we can begin to understand how the Roman Empire shaped and fundamentally changed the world, creating immense temporal currents that can still be felt today. In its time, Roman Eboracum changed from Roman military base, through to a provincial capital where Emperors lived and died. For periods, therefore, York was at the centre of the Roman world.
A spokesperson for North Star commented:
“These proposals will be a major boost to the City of York and replace unattractive buildings with a new iconic development that the whole City can be proud of. We are undertaking an extensive public consultation exercise to encourage as many people to get involved as possible to help shape the plans so we can offer maximum benefits to York.
“It will be the final piece in the jigsaw to complete the renaissance of this part of the City Centre and also deliver something globally unique to York.”
Paul Whiting, Head of Visit York added:
“This is an exciting project for the city and one that will have significant long-term economic benefits for York. Both the archaeological excavations and the attraction itself will expand our understanding of York’s fascinating Roman history and add a new asset to our city’s rich heritage offer. What York Archaeological Trust did for the Vikings with the Coppergate excavations it can now do to showcase the impact of the Romans over 2,000 years ago.”
Guy Nixon, Founder and CEO of Native, which will operate the new hotel, explained:
“We couldn’t be more excited to have the opportunity to bring our unique aparthotel and restaurant concept to the people of York and to be doing so alongside the York Archaeological Trust at Roman Quarter. Every project Native undertakes is unique whether crafting the new or reimagining the old – we seek to create spaces that connect with and reflect the very best of the communities in which we operate whether that’s a converted 19th century cotton warehouse in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, a reconstructed 18th century tea warehouse on the Southbank or this exciting opportunity to develop a new landmark scheme within the ancient city walls of York.”
Local residents and businesses will have the opportunity to find out more about the exciting plans at a public exhibition event on the 4th July at Society, 1 Rougier Street, between 1pm and 7pm. All consultation material, and feedback forms, will be available at www.romanquarterconsultation.co.uk.
A planning application will be submitted in the coming months.