The company behind plans to redevelop the former Fibbers music venue has criticised the ‘uninformed’ squatters who have moved into the building.
YorkMix reported yesterday (Thursday) that squatters have moved into the vacant building on Toft Green, saying they want to turn the space back into a place for live performances.
But developers North Star, which has plans to demolish Fibbers and build modern offices in its place, say they are about to sign a deal to create a new 500-capacity live music venue at that site.
Today North Star criticised the squatters for
- allegedly breaking into a secure property
- not talking to anyone from North Star before taking action
- ignoring all the positive work they have done for York’s culture and nightlife sectors
- and potentially endangering themselves and others in a derelict property.
The squatters previously targeted vacant land next to the York Barbican Centre, calling themselves the Barbican Community Centre.
That land is owned by Persimmon and has lain untouched for 15 years. In that case, the squatters drew praise for highlighting the issue – and a senior York councillor spoke in support of their actions.
While Persimmon is a huge corporation which keeps countless undeveloped sites across the country in a land bank, the North Star spokesperson pointed out that all its key stakeholders live and work in York, and want to see the city thrive for residents as well as visitors.
The spokesperson added: “We are aware that the former Fibbers building has been broken into by breaking the lock on the door and the police have been informed. We are working with the owners of the property, Toft Green Developments, to resolve the situation.
“As a local company that is trying to invest in York this is very disappointing as we try and support the arts and cultural sector as much as possible.”
The squatters vehemently deny breaking in and said the building was insecure and allowed them open access.
North Star has previously teamed up with Social Vision on its Space Invaders project.
In this, North Star has given over empty properties to Social Vision, who have transformed them into pop-up arts, performance and food venues for the local community.
A North Star spokesperson told YorkMix that they had considered doing the same with the former Fibbers – but it was just too derelict and dangerous.
“This building is dangerously unsafe to be inhabited and has major health risks, and does not have insurance for habitation currently.
“It also has an unsafe asbestos roof. If this building had been safe to host cultural events then we would have gladly done so as we have successfully elsewhere.
“A lot of the internal features, including the air conditioning units, have been gifted to The Crescent Club.
“A planning application is currently with the council and we obviously can’t legally do anything with the building until permission is granted.
“In the coming weeks we will also be announcing a revised vision for this site which includes music, cultural and work space that will be fantastic for the city’s cultural sector.
“If the people involved in breaking in had come to us and asked for space to offer cultural use, then we would have happily worked with them to find somewhere suitable as we have done with organisations in York previously.”
See York prosper
More recently the company helped to save Kuda, which has reopened as a nightclub under a new operator after it was bought by North Star and Grantside.
The North Star spokesperson said: “Other people were looking at that site to redevelop it into apartments or hotels.
“We bought it and we’ve re-let it on a ten-year lease to Rekom and it’s a nightclub again. So yes, we are in this to make money overall – but we also want to do some good, to see our city that we all love prosper and grow.”
Arrangements are now being made for the squatters to be evicted from Fibbers. More details on the new music venue will be released within weeks, they added.