‘Secret’ city centre restaurant is rejected for a second time

The yard behind Hornby's Passage on Stonegate where the café would have operated. Photograph © Google Street View

Plans for a “secret” restaurant in York city centre have been turned down – for a second time.

A team hoping to open Kurdish cafe and restaurant – named Secret Square – off Hornby’s Passage, next to the Jack Wills shop in Stonegate, applied for a licence to City of York Council.

But the council’s public protection team said it would be “like having your morning cup of tea inside a restaurant” for neighbours living above the courtyard, because of the possible noise the business would create.

Neighbours, police and the council objected to the plans – on the grounds that it is in a ‘red zone’ in the city centre where there is a high number of licensed premises, as well as worries about noise and anti social behaviour.

Brand new idea

Inside Hornbys Passage. Photograph: Licensing documents

A previous application for the same premises was turned down in February.

But the applicant Yalcin Kizilkaya and his business partner said at a meeting last week: “This is a brand new idea, a fresh business. We have tried to take everybody’s comments on board.

“We want to focus on the food and bring a unique Kurdish culture to York. We have really listened to the neighbours and learned from our previous application.

“There’s nothing like this in York. It’s a very respectful culture and the food is beautiful. It’s a family restaurant.”

Under the plans, the restaurant would open until 11pm, with customers allowed to sit in the courtyard until 9pm. Alcohol would be available by table service only and door supervisors would be hired.

But North Yorkshire Police objected – saying the applicants had not proven the business will not add to crime and disorder in the city centre.

PC Kim Hollis said: “Even though food has been offered as part of the application, it is not believed that this is a substantial restaurant but rather a cafe or bar as submitted in the first application.

“The application has failed to specifically address in their operating schedule the measures that would be implemented so that if a premises licence was granted, it would not add to the cumulative impact the area is already experiencing.”

Complaints likely

A locked gate prevents access to Hornbys Passage. Photograph: Richard McDougall

Michael Golightly from the council’s public protection team said noise complaints were likely, adding: “I would be like, having your cup of tea in the morning in a restaurant, that you’re not party to.”

“It’s in an area where there’s already four bars – on Stonegate. And this rear yard is directly overlooked by flats.

“Our concerns remain the same as with the previous application. There are residential premises directly overlooking the courtyard.

“It’s just so close to residential flats and we don’t feel there’s anything the applicant can do to mitigate that.”