Spark:York could find a new home on York Central, according to a senior council officer.
The Piccadilly location housing the food, drink and start-up box park, is set to be sold on for affordable housing under City of York Council’s latest plans, though it could retain some sort of presence on the ground floor of a new development.
Spark, which was always meant to be a temporary venture, has been granted a new lease by councillors, but could be told to leave the site as soon as November 2023.
The social enterprise has proved popular with many people in the city, but neighbours have complained about noise later at night.
Labour leader Cllr Pete Kilbane said during a meeting of the council’s executive: “It appeals to a particular demographic.
“I’ve had young professionals saying to me that if Spark closes they will leave the city so maintaining that type of facility on that site, that can address the concerns of the residents, is something that we’ll support.”
The council’s director of economy, regeneration and housing, Tracey Carter, said Spark was “hugely popular”.
She added: “This small business pop-up space has delivered beyond expectations on the regeneration of Piccadilly, driving footfall and creating a vibrant community space for all ages.
“Spark: York will now be able to extend the duration of their lease until the site is ready for development and this will enable us to spend more time to work with them and explore the potential for a move within the city to our largest regeneration site on York Central.”
York Central, believed to be the largest brownfield development site in the country, envisages up to 2,500 new homes, 110,000 square metres of commercial and office space, and new streets, shops and public areas.
A permanent feature?
Ms Carter said the council had regularly engaged with residents about the operation of Spark over the years and that relationships had “improved radically” recently.
Cllr Kilbane asked if the council considered a mixed-use development on Piccadilly with social housing above it.
“The city centre is absolutely desperate for [business] incubator and accelerator space, which is entirely what Spark does,” he added.
Ms Carter said: “Spark has brought something to the city that we didn’t have before and it will be interesting to see how they might work with the full build out on 17-21 [Piccadilly] as to whether the ground floor uses might become something that becomes a permanent feature.
“We would very much want to establish those relationships between Spark and any prospective purchasers of the site.”
Cllr Nigel Ayre, executive member for finance and performance, said residents had welcomed the council’s proposals.
He added: “There are slight concerns about the extension towards the lease but I’ve assured them that we intend to dispose [of the site] and we are moving forward with that.”