Spark: York has been given permission to operate for another three years by a planning committee.
But Spark could be asked to leave as soon as November 2023, as the Piccadilly site has been earmarked for affordable housing by City of York Council.
Today the founders said they are now focusing on the next steps, including looking for a new site.
Most councillors agreed the shipping container venue has been positive for York, despite complaints from some nearby residents.
Three people living next to Spark spoke in its favour, but ward councillor Fiona Fitzpatrick was representing residents who opposed the application but did not want to attend the meeting because “the relationship had broken down” with the directors.
She said Spark was “like Marmite in the city” and that while she loved the “buzz and vibrancy”, it was not in the right place.
“It’s the cheek by jowl living that is just completely inappropriate,” she added.
“The neighbours feel that they’ve just taken too much for granted for too long and enough is enough.”
Co-director Sam Leach said Spark, a community interest company, had hosted 17 businesses that have gone on to permanent premises, supported 65 full time jobs and boosted the local economy by £4m per year.
He accepted some residents would rather Spark not be there but said others were regular customers.
“We’re trying to bring something vibrant and positive here but we accept that that is a consistent process of speaking with residents to make sure that it can work for us both,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s a true depiction that we’re having this party on Piccadilly while everyone else is despairing.”
A good neighbour
Matthew Laverack, an architect, said extensions to Spark’s operation could go on indefinitely.
“It is a hard-nosed business organisation that wraps itself in a cloak of community interest,” he added.
Nigel Wilson, who moved to neighbouring Nelson’s Yard after visiting Spark, said: “My experience as a neighbour of three years has generally been very good. There have been occasions when elevated noise from sporting events has caused a nuisance, but these are very much the exceptions rather than the norm.”
A condition agreed by councillors means Spark will have to turn off the music by 10pm from Sunday to Thursday.
Coun Janet Looker said: “It certainly has made a lot of difference to Piccadilly, which has been until relatively recently a disaster of a street.”
But she added: “I do think the residents are owed and deserve some certainty as to what is going to happen to the site and when it’s going to happen.”
Spark’s new planning permission means it can operate until September 2025, but a separate lease agreement with the council has seen them agree to move out before then if a developer is ready to start work at the site.
Mr Leach said: “We are now working towards a definitive end date for the project and I think we’ll focus on next steps, hopefully onto another site in York if that’s what the public will is.”