A mum whose dream of reopening an historic York shop could be dashed by planners has launched a petition to support her cause.
Last August Sara Winlow bought the property which used to house South Bank Stores on Balmoral Terrace, close to the racecourse.
The shop had long since closed, and she took it on “in an abandoned state. The flat above was in a complete state of disrepair as well”.
Her plan was to reopen the shop as a florist’s and coffee shop. To do so she needed to extend the living area so there was enough room for her and her son to live in.
Sara says she was advised she would be granted planning permission to do the extension when she bought the property, but has now been told that her application is likely to be recommended for refusal.
So she has launched the petition to show that the community support her plans.
Bring it back
According to the book Shadows in the Bricks: the old shops of South Bank in York by Clements Hall Local History Group, the shop dates back to 1909, and has had various guises over the years.
By 1949 it was AE Thorns, who lasted till the 1980s, later Cox & Taylor off-licence, then Dave’s, Hall’s, J&M and Cox’s Corner Shop, before South Bank Stores.
Sara says that she wants to “restore its former glory, and start my own business as a single-parent, with sustainable business practice ideas”, adding:
It was a lovely Victorian shop, and I want to bring it back to how it was and reopen it.
It was to build a dream for my son and I – we want to live in it, work in it; it’s our life.
We want to open it as a florist’s shop – but also a coffee shop so it would be a hub to the local community.Sara Winlow
She also wants to set up the business “in memory of my mother, who is in a care home suffering from Alzheimer’s”.
At the moment there is not enough living space for her and her son – she is sleeping in the flat’s living room/kitchenette.
She applied for permission to demolish the timber extension at the back, and build in its place a two-storey extension. A new staircase would be created, leading to an attic room for her son with dormer window.
Sara was told by council officers that the plan was too big and would encroach on a neighbour – and advised to scale it back.
So she submitted plans for a smaller upgrade. “I’m not very happy because it’s a really tight space for us and it’s not going to be wonderful to live in. But I wanted to keep everyone happy.
“We did everything they asked for just so we could get it through. And then in the end they just said no. I feel like we’ve been let down.”
Need community shops
Ward councillor Jonny Crawshaw says he will call in the application to committee to allow councillors to review the officer’s recommendation and make the final decision.
“Planning is often about balancing conflicting and competing needs,” he said.
“When an application creates a high level of public interest it’s important that the decision making process is seen to be fair and transparent.”
To help her cause, Sara has launched the petition. She said:
I appreciate everyone’s support so far. Any further support would be excellent.
It’s something I’d love to do for my son, and as a memory for my mum. I just want to be able to make this happen.
As well as signing the petition you can help Sara by leavin supportive comments on the planning portal here.
“It seems like we should be providing more retail rather than making people shop online or in town. There should be more community shops,” she said.
“But if I’m not able to stay and live here, sadly it’s going to have to be sold on as a house again.”