Spark:York set for a three-year extension – but its time could still be cut short
Council officers are recommending that Spark:York is granted permission to keep operating for another three years.
Co-director Sam Leach has applied to renew the planning permission for the box park at the Piccadilly site until September 2025.
But even if councillors approve the application, this will not affect a decision made last month by the council’s executive which confirmed that the site is eventually going to be converted into affordable housing – potentially a mix of social rent, affordable rent and shared ownership homes.
The lease agreement the council agreed with Spark last month could see the venue made to leave the site as soon as November 2023 to start redevelopment.
In a report set to go before councillors on Thursday (April 7), council officers said: “Rather than leave the site vacant, in the interim Spark remaining is the preferred option due to the wider economic benefits for the area that would result.”
But the report notes that Spark, which was always meant to be a temporary venture, “in its current iteration, is considered not to be an appropriate permanent solution for the site given the aspirations for regeneration of Piccadilly.”
The site is considered part of the Castle Gateway area and the council has a longstanding commitment to develop it.
Spark has become a hugely popular street food and community venue since opening in 2018. The council says it is supporting efforts to find another venue in the city, with York Central touted as a possibility.
Lots of support
Guildhall ward councillor Fiona Fitzpatrick requested the latest application be determined by the planning committee due to the level of public interest.
The application attracted 50 letters of support for Spark, with six registered in objection.
The letters in support referenced the diverse, varied and independent nature of the venue, its community focus; providing spaces for creative and communal activities by hosting workshops, classes and events, and that it provides a valuable group of spaces for small scale and emerging businesses.
Complaints mainly centred around noise affecting residents later at night.
Since 2020, one breach of condition notice has been issued about loud music, but residents complain about noise once or twice a week, according to the report.
Council officers are recommending that a new condition is attached to the permission that will prevent any music being played in external areas after 9pm from Sunday to Thursday.
Spark was originally given permission by City of York Council to remain in place for three years until 2020, with a future extension granted until April 2022.
Residents also complained about being able to hear the weekly quiz when their windows were closed and this event has been paused.