A ceremony has been held at York Minster to mark the installation of solar tiles on the roof of its Refectory building.

Attended by City of York Council members, including Cllr Paula Widdowson, Executive Member for Environment and Climate Change, the ceremony included a dedication by Acting Dean, The Rvd Canon Michael Smith.

This signals the first time that solar tiles have been installed on a listed building in the city and follows extensive consultations between York Minster, City of York Council and Historic England.

Brought to site following a successful planning decision in December 2022, the Refectory, located at 2 Deangate, is the first major project in the recently adopted York Minster Neighbourhood Plan. The former site of The Minster School, it is in the process of being transformed into a refectory-style restaurant café, and is set to open in 2023.

The Neighbourhood Plan forms part of York’s statutory development plan and sets out a 15-year route map to create a sustainable future for the Minster and its surrounding Precinct. It is the first time that a Neighbourhood Plan has been used to map the future care of a cathedral or heritage estate.

The discreetly placed solar tiles will produce approximately 10,000 kilowatt-hours of power every year and will support the Minster’s ambitions to achieve operational net zero carbon, as outlined in the Neighbourhood Plan.

Alex McCallion, director of works and precinct at York Minster, said: “As with our recently ratified Neighbourhood Plan, York Minster is leading the way and setting a new precedent for other heritage organisations to follow. Currently, the biggest external threat to the Minster’s future is climate change, brought about by extreme weather events. The Neighbourhood Plan sets a policy-led approach to how we are going to address this as we move towards a low carbon estate. The installation of these solar tiles is an important milestone in delivering that pledge”.

Rvd Canon Michael Smith, Acting Dean of York Minster, said: “We are very excited to have installed these new solar tiles, which signify a first not just for the Minster, but for the wider city. We want to thank both City of York Council and Historic England for their support up to this point, and we hope to continue our partnership working as we seek to deliver our Neighbourhood Plan over the next 15 years which as sustainability at its heart, while also being sensitive to the Precinct’s historic architecture.”

Cllr. Paula Widdowson, Executive Member for Environment and Climate change at City of York Council, added: “I am delighted to see solar tiles installed on a listed building in the Minster Precinct. This has been delivered through City of York Council and the Minster working together to build a solution that satisfies both our climate ambition and our conservation requirements. I am looking forward to seeing many more of these projects delivered across the city in years to come.”

For more information on the Neighbourhood Plan, please visit: https://yorkminster.org/about-us/master-planning/.

Images: Duncan Lomax