‘There are more empty shops in York than ever’ claims city business

The shops on Lord Mayor’s Walk could be turned into apartments. Photographs: Richard McDougall
8 Aug 2018 @ 5.43 pm
| Business, Shopping

Developers are making a second attempt to transform three prominent retail units into holiday apartments – because ‘there are more empty shops in York streets than ever before’.

Goodramgate Apartments now leases the building called Bartizan House, which runs from the corner of Monkgate up Lord Mayor’s Walk.

Until early 2016, these were occupied by family-run shops Bulmers and Blossom & Walker.

But Goodramgate Apartments wants to turn three of the former shop units along Lord Mayor’s Walk into three one-bedroom holiday lets.

They previously applied for permission to change the ground floor units from retail use to accommodation in April. Then, City of York Council planners refused saying that “would dilute the commercial function of the street”.

‘Viable alternative’ to retail

The windows are covered in a special film showing the accommodation inside but allowing the holidaymakers to see out
In a new submission to planners, architect Mike Swinglehurst, on behalf of Goodramgate Apartments, argues that keeping them as retail units is not viable.

He writes:

  • The high street retail environment has dramatically changed. Even major retailers have either announced stores closing or have gone into liquidation.

    There are more empty retail units in York streets than ever before. To promote viability and vitality the LPA [local planning authority] should not insist secondary shop frontages have to remain retail where a viable alternative use is proposed.

    Many York retailers are facing stiff competition from internet-based companies who by trading online are not subject to the same rents and rates meaning the local shopkeepers cannot compete on a level playing field.

    Some are being forced to move their businesses online or close down completely. This is especially pertinent in secondary shopping areas.

Window displays ‘incongruous’

The plan for the building

Another council objection to the previous application was the use of large graphic photographs of the holiday accommodation filling the shop windows.

These are created out of special one-way film, which means the holidaymakers inside can look out but no one can see in.

In their previous decision planners said: “The obscuring of the shop windows by the application of self adhesive window film and an internal sound insulating screen, would both result in some loss of interest and activity in the streetscene and would appear incongruous with the historic character of the buildings.”

But Mr Swinglehurst says this is normal practice in the city.

  • One-way vision displays are used on ground floor street windows for different types of businesses throughout the city.

    Local adjacent examples are Giant cycles, Press Green Ltd and the Monkbar Hotel.

The ground floor corner unit of the building would stay as retail under this application.

You can read more about the proposal on the City of York Council planning website.

About Goodramgate Apartments

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This is what the application says about Goodramgate Apartments, which is hoping to create the three holiday lets:

The company is a successful local business that has been established more than 15 years.

They provide short term holiday accommodation of differing sizes from individual rooms to family apartments. At present they have 14 apartments which are mainly located in number 2 Goodramgate, the adjoining 1-3 Monkgate and the upper floors of Bartizan House.

Goodramgate Apartments know from their 15 years’ experience there is a buoyant market for their proposed three additional single letting bedrooms.