A plan to demolish a popular shop on Coney Street to create a new snickelway and arcade should be refused, according to a York council expert.
The proposal forms part of The Coney Street Riverside project by York property specialist the Helmsley Group.
One of the key aims of the scheme is to open up the riverside behind the shops on the street.
To achieve this, the ground floor of number 5 Coney Street would be demolished to create a modern ‘snickelway’ through to a rear courtyard.
Number 5 is currently home to cosmetics retailer Lush.
A listed building planning application for the scheme is in with City of York Council.
In its design statement, the Helmsley Group says: “A fundamental aspect of the scheme is the opening up of the ground floor of No 5 Coney Street to form a snickelway which, is designed to reflect the character of many similar examples that are a common feature of the city centre and a peculiarity of York.
“This snickelway, or ginnel will lead to a courtyard which, features external seating areas tailored to serve the proposed restaurant units before providing a connection to existing pedestrian routes, the external area adjacent to the former Yorkshire Herald building and the riverfront.”
But City of York Council’s conservation architect Rachel Cleminson is recommending the plan is refused.
She said the Grade II listed building was originally a townhouse. “This is also an important part of the Coney Street’s character, of historic houses, with shops at ground floor that enclose the street.
“The complete loss of the ground floor of this listed building will harm the understanding of this property as an individual house / property, and subsequent evolution and the streetscape of Coney Street.”
Six new window openings will be created in the 17th and 18th century fabric either side of the building to create what she describes as “less a snickelway, and more a shopping arcade”.
Ms Cleminson writes: “The creation of large and frequent openings within these historic walls, is harmful to the character, understanding and significance of all three listed buildings at ground floor level.”
She goes on to say “there are positive aspects of this application”. But she recommends it is refused by York councillors “and a pre-application submitted to allow for detailed discussion to take place”.
Max Reeves, development director at the Helmsley Group, has said in response to feedback on the Coney Street Riverside proposals: “We have worked with a number of key stakeholders including heritage bodies and advisors to shape the vision to date and will continue to do so throughout the consultation period.”
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