York is to get its first purpose-built gig venue in decades – to the delight of local councillors who have campaigned to preserve live music in the city.
The former Fibbers site in Toft Green is to become a 500-capacity music venue managed by Jimmy’s, the company founded by Helmsley-born brothers George and Jimmy Craig of the band One Night Only.
Initial plans submitted in 2020 aimed to turn the site purely into office space.
But campaigning by Labour councillors led Toft Green Developments to include a music venue , with office space also included in their latest plans, which were approved by a planning committee on Thursday.
Ravi Majithia, director of Avantis Hotels, which owns and operates the Hampton by Hilton opposite the site, said Fibbers had cost his business more than £150,000 due to money spent on soundproofing and refunding customers who complained about noise.
He said the “poor location” would force Jimmy’s to cut alcohol prices and trade later into the evening “leading to greater consumption of alcohol, greater disturbance, nuisance and rally behaviour.”
Philip Holmes, of planning consultants O’Neill Associates, said the old and new venues were like “chalk and cheese”. Previously the venue also included a gentleman’s club, nightclub and bierkeller.
Richard Craig, George and Jimmy’s father, added: “Unlike the previous use, we will be operating York’s first purpose-built music venue with state of the art noise insulation and mitigation essentially baked into the building design.
“The capacity of our venue will be less than with the former uses and standard opening times will be significantly reduced from the previous operation, which could open until 4am seven nights a week.”
‘A really positive addition’
Cllr John Galvin, who joked that he might like to see a chamber orchestra play at Jimmy’s, said: “I think it’s absolutely vital in this day and age that we have these kinds of venues.”
Committee chair Cllr Tony Fisher said the city was missing a mid-size venue for up-and-coming bands – in between the likes of The Crescent and York Barbican.
Cllr Jonny Crawshaw added: “My hope is this will be a really positive addition to the cultural landscape of the city and in particular, this part of York – it just gives us that right mix of different types of venues.”
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Pete Kilbane said: “This will be York’s first purpose built live music venue in secades. It will expand a burgeoning music scene and provide culture for residents to enjoy.
“It follows three years of campaigning and lobbying by myself, Cllr Jonny Crawshaw and others worried that York’s few music venues were under threat of extinction.
“We celebrate this moment but stay vigilant and continue to champion a music culture that brings creativity, talent and vibrancy to the city.”