The booze backlash: Huge new bar ‘will attract trouble and deter visitors to York’

8 Feb 2017 @ 7.19 pm
| Food & drink, News

Criticism is growing of plans to create a big restaurant and bar in part of the old BHS building in York.

We reported last month on plans by the building’s new owners to split the former store into three units.

Permission is being sought to turn the unit facing on to New Street into a restaurant and bar, with Revolucion De Cuba Bars said to be poised to move in.

However the proposal has run into significant opposition from those who say it will add to drunken crime and disorder. Prominent objectors include the police and a neighbouring bar owner.

Crime and disorder

The old BHS on New Street. Tables from Dusk and The Drawing Board are on the left. Photograph: YorkMix

In his objection lodged with City of York Council planners, Jim Shanks, designing out crime officer for York police, revealed that 32 crimes and 45 incidents of anti-social behaviour took place in New Street in 2016. It already has three bars: Dusk, The Drawing Board and All Bar One.

“These figures show how the night time economy is already having a detrimental effect on crime and disorder in this street,” he writes.

He goes on:

The analyses would indicate that further licensed premises in this area would be very likely to result in increased problems of disorder and public nuisance affecting residents, visitors and other businesses.

The proposed new bar is in York’s ‘cumulative impact zone’ (CIZ), an area hit by alcohol-related trouble in the centre of town.

But Mr Shanks’ says that little notice seems to be paid to police concerns as “licences have continued to be granted” within the zone.

Another problem is that the outdoor seating would create a serious obstruction, and when the furniture is removed “could attract graffiti, litter, rough sleepers or be used as a toilet area”.

‘More anti-social problems’

A picture of New Street showing the old BHS building on the right and the Dusk tables on the left. Photograph © Google Street View

Meanwhile, the owner of Dusk, the bar located opposite the BHS New Street entrance, has objected because “it will add anti-social problems on New Street that we have spent a decade battling against already”.

Andrew Knights says the CIZ “seems to do absolutely nothing”.

He said “big corporations are seemingly allowed to do whatever they want, wherever they want, to the detriment of York’s image and sustainability as a great city for everyone”.

He adds:

We have lost so much trade on a Saturday already over the years, due to the fact that none of our regular clientele wish to enter the city on a Saturday any more!

A major part of the reason, in my opinion, why shops are struggling and are being continuously replaced with bars.

‘No-go area’

A photograph from the Revolucion De Cuba Bars Facebook page

Nicholas Allen of Heslington says converting a building into a bar

is rapidly becoming the default use of any empty property in the centre of York, with the result for the majority of York residents and visitors, it is becoming a no-go area in the evenings.

The police’s objections should be listened to, Mr Allen says. “After all, they have to deal with the anti-social behaviour and mayhem created by excessive alcohol consumption.”

Another objector, Susan Young of Guardian Court, York, says simply:

There are more than enough bars/restaurants in that area of York. What is needed are more small retail units.