Micro breweries, art galleries and yoga studios – New vision for Monks Cross

Two of the pods at Monks Cross. Photograph: YorkMix

Landlords at Monks Cross shopping park have been struggling to rent out small ‘refreshment pods’ – earmarked for coffee shops or sandwich chains – at the site for three years.

And now they are hoping to kit out the units as pop-up businesses that can be rented out short term as shops, yoga studios, childcare centres, art galleries or even micro breweries.

Only one of the four pods at Monks Cross has been successfully let out, to Greggs, according to planning documents lodged with City of York Council.

A report says the units have been marketed in a variety of ways during the past three years.

But the downturn in the food and drink sector and the creation of new units at the Community Stadium has hit demand for space at Monks Cross.

Three brand new restaurant units at the Community Stadium have also failed to attract businesses, despite years of marketing.

Wider range of uses

One of the pods. Photograph: YorkMix

In response to the changing industry, the developers at Monks Cross have asked for permission for the refreshment pods to be used for businesses other than restaurants or cafes.

They say: “The pods were originally intended as small scale refreshment uses, ancillary to the main retail function of the centre to improve the facilities available to shoppers who would already be on site.

“However despite an extensive marketing exercise over several years, including around a year after construction before the pandemic, only one unit has been let.

“In order to let these units, a wider range of uses is now sought.”

Around £14 million was spent on building the pods, improving the car park and changes to landscaping and routes around the site, according to documents.

In 2017, companies were interested in taking over the units. But the market has “changed dramatically for the worse” since then – and the agents have only received inquiries about the units from pop-up businesses.

A letter from the estate management company says: “This is one area where there has been and still is some letting interest.

“The agents have been approached a number of times for uses such as florists, yoga or personal training studio, creche, micro brewery, artists/galleries, nail bar, barbers etc which … are not permitted by the current condition.”

They are proposing to kit out the pods so businesses can take on a 12-week lease allowing tenants to “change the signage and literally plug in their equipment, stock the unit and start trading”.

View the application here.