Big new bar could ‘decimate’ hotel’s business, owners warn

The Judges Court Hotel. Photographs: YorkMix
2 Mar 2017 @ 8.10 pm
| News

The latest people to weigh in against the large bar proposed for the old BHS building in York are the owners of a townhouse hotel.

The team who run the Judges Court Hotel, found off Coney Street, join the police, other bar and shop owners, and residents in objecting to the plan.

Planning permission is being sought from City of York Council to turn one of the three units being created from the empty BHS store in Coney Street into a Revolucion De Cuba Bar.

Successful business

In a letter sent on behalf of the hotel, Eamonn Keogh of the O’Neil town planning consultants, says the Judges Court has been very successful since its was transformed from dilapidated offices at significant expense.

In its two years of operation it has achieved an occupancy rate of 98%.

The Judges Court is very close to the empty building. One side of the hotel is just two metres away from it, and seven of the hotel’s 15 bedrooms face on to the former BHS store.

A view through to the hotel down the passage off Coney Street

One of the greatest challenges facing a hotel found right in the city centre is noise. “Any further deterioration in the noise problem would make the operation of a hotel in this location unviable,” Mr Keogh writes.

He notes that Revolucion De Cuba bars in Leeds and Harrogate open till 3am. Noise from music inside the bar, and from customers using the roof bar and the pavement seating would cause a serious disturbance to guests.

The rooftop bar would also overlook hotel bedroom windows. And the potential damage to the business from “unsustainable and dangerous levels of crowds on the street” and anti-social behaviour was also highlighted.

‘Irreparable damage’

Could the hotel’s gate be closed for good if the new bar is permitted?

Mr Keogh writes:

The operation of the hotel above all rests on the ability of guests to yet a reasonably good night’s sleep.

Even if the developers of the BHS building could propose modifications to their submission, incorporating noise attenuation, the sensitive and unpredictable nature of noise disturbance could very quickly and completely decimate the viability of the hotel operation.

In this modern world of social media and online reviews, a venue’s reputation is quickly destroyed.

If approved, even in modified form, by the time any subsequent issues were addressed the business might be irreparably damaged.

The Judges Court is a Grade II* listed building dating from the early 1700s. A hotel might be the only suitable use for it today, the owners argue.

Mr Keogh adds: “The approval of this proposal has very real risks of leaving this business and building fundamentally unviable for any other use. The building could once again become vacant putting its future at risk.”

These objections can be added to those of Jim Shanks, designing out crime officer for York police, Alan Wilkinson, who runs the Axis Barber Shop in New Street and Andrew Knights, owner of Dusk, the bar opposite BHS’s New Street entrance.

All three made the point that increase anti-social behaviour because of the proliferation of bars was putting people off coming into York on a Saturday.