The future of one of York’s most-loved shops will be decided very soon.
Barnitts has applied to downsize its Colliergate store and turn part of the shop, including the former Drill Hall building on St Andrewgate, into ten townhouses and two apartments and create a new commercial unit.
Their planning application was considered at a City of York Council last November. But a decision was deferred until councillors had an independent valuation of the development, so they could decide whether the scheme should make a contribution towards affordable housing in the city.
The District Valuer has now reported back – and agreed with Barnitts and developers Oakgate that affordable housing is not possible or viable in such a complex building.
As as result planning officers are now recommending that councillors approve the plans, which Barnitts’ owners say would safeguard its future.
The area planning committee will vote on the plans next Wednesday (13 October).
Click and collect store
Managing director of Barnitts Paul Thompson said: “Gaining the approval of this planning application is crucial to allow us to invest in the city centre and safeguard jobs.
“Despite talks at the original meeting that the viability assessment process could take a matter of weeks it has taken 11 months to get back to committee and we now need a decision on the plans.
“In that time it has been tremendously challenging but we now more than ever have to adapt to retailing changes that are happening following the pandemic and the changing behaviour of shoppers.
“Now we urge councillors to approve these plans to unlock this investment and help the city centre.”
The drill hall was previously used by the Territorial Army and was bought by Barnitts around 25 years ago and converted into retail space.
“We bought the drill hall into the store to safeguard our future 25 years ago and now we need to repurpose this part of the building to secure our legacy for the next 25 years and beyond,” Paul said.
The funds from this development would be ploughed back into the remaining store and also the planned ‘click and collect store’ on James Street, next to the recently opened Lidl.
This will ensure that the famous store can continue to meet customers’ changing needs and tackle challenges heightened by the current Covid-19 situation.