If a large new bar got the go-ahead, it would trash York’s heritage and turn a residential neighbourhood into ‘hell’.
So say the objectors to Roxy Leisure Ltd’s plan to open a games bar in Stonebow House.
The Roxy Ball Room would be a ‘party venue‘ featuring games like pool, beer pong, mini golf, table tennis, shuffleboard and darts.
Run over two floors of Stonebow House, the licensing application to City of York Council says the bar would open 9am to 11.30pm Monday to Wednesday, and 9am to 12.30am Thursday to Saturday.
Roxy Leisure say any karaoke rooms will be fully soundproofed, and staff will be trained in minimising noise disturbance.
North Yorkshire Police said they have no objection to the application after the company agreed to put a qualified door supervisor in place every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and race day night, as well as Sundays before bank holidays.
The City of York Council public protection team also agreed conditions with the licensee, including restricting queues and enacting a noise management plan.
However, York Central MP Rachael Maskell, York Green Party and scores of neighbouring residents have objected to the licence.
Many of them point to Roxy’s advertising of this style of bar as “the home of booze and ball games” and say it is inappropriate in a conservation area.
‘Cheap, shoddy attractions’
The application will be considered at a council licensing hearing next Monday (11 September)
Here are some of the 38 objections.
One resident of neighbouring Aldwark wrote: “The city centre is already a less than pleasant place late at night owing to hen, stag, and other parties carousing.
“I thought York City Council was trying to promote York as a quality place to visit, not driving it into an ever decreasing spiral of cheap, shoddy attractions.”
Another Aldwark neighbour said: “There have been previous incidents in this area where public nuisance has affected our life through alcohol being sold in the area.
“Drunken people have used our property as toilets and for vomiting. Couples have used our darkened areas to have sex!
“The noise that would be produced from the Roxy Gaming property would travel through the area and cause disturbance to our sleep.”
The York Unitarians meet in the Unitarian Chapel in St Saviourgate, the oldest surviving nonconformist chapel in the city.
Their secretary wrote to object, saying: “We believe the noise alone will make it unsuitable to be situated so close to a house of worship (and ours is not the only church on St Saviourgate).
“The noise is likely to interfere with the atmosphere of peace and quiet in the chapel, and also interfere with the lunchtime and evening concerts.
“We already experience disorderly behaviour, with people trying to break into the chapel and leaving litter in our front courtyard. With this new venue, open and selling alcohol basically all day long, this situation is bound to get much, much worse.”
The objection adds: “If this licence application is allowed, it will likely trash the heritage of our chapel, a significant heritage building in the city centre.”
A St Saviourgate resident said the street at night is already “a no-go zone as it is used after hours as a toilet and for drug dealing”.
“We know from the reputation of Roxy Ballrooms in other cities such as Leeds that all-day drinking, combined with music so loud that clients have to shout to be heard, carries on when they leave the venue and this leads to trouble.”
Another one said: “York has set out a vision that aims to put residents first and to be a family-friendly, welcoming city. This licence application seeks to attract the types of drinking groups that have made York city centre a no-go zone for residents and families in recent times.”
And a law firm based on St Saviourgate wrote: “We are concerned that a licensed bar serving alcohol to fuel ‘games’ all day and late into the evening will have the effect of increasing the amount of anti-social behaviour generally experienced in the area, impacting on our clients and staff.”
Several elderly residents of Lady Hewley’s Cottages, found close to Stonebow House, have objected. One said: “I personally have had two of my vehicles jumped on by drunken revellers in the street, wing mirrors smashed off causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.
“I have also witnessed urinating openly etc in the street. I don’t think we really need more of this do we? Surely there must be out of town venues available for this sort of activity, please do not allow this application in the heart of our beautiful city.”
A daughter of an 80-year-old resident living in the cottages said: “My mother manages well at the present time but I would not like to think that her comfortable quiet life was to be shattered by a commercial enterprise so close to her doorstep”
A third resident of the cottages said: “A resident who was living here before me when Fibbers was operating, found the disruption so great that she slept on the floor in the storeroom at the back of her cottage for weeks on end as she could not stand the noise.
“The other residents who have lived here longer than I, are today expressing extreme anxiety about this sort of problem recurring.”
Another resident said the bar “would contribute to York’s sullied reputation as a hen, stag and drinking party destination – when York would better be served by a reputation for being a family friendly, historic, safe place to live and work”.
And after meeting the residents of the cottages, an unnamed objector said the noise from the bar “would no doubt create significant sleep deprivation and therefore be of further detrimental effect on their health and wellbeing.
“Add to this the sound of vast quantities of bottles being emptied into the commercial waste wheelie bins for recycling directly over the rear fence of the garden and we have a situation that is effectively a ‘welcome to hell’!”
You can read the background papers for the licensing hearing here.