Bold plans to create a purpose-built live music venue to replace Fibbers have fallen through.
The 500-seat event space was set to be built on the site of the now dilapidated Fibbers building on Toft Green in York.
The scheme, which also included an office block, won planning permission from City of York Council in December last year.
But today one of the scheme’s partners, developers North Star, confirmed that the plans had completely stalled due to lack of funds.
North Star’s Paul Ellis said it was due to potential investment partners pulling out following the change in economic circumstances and hike in interest rates.
The owner of the site, Toft Green Developments Ltd, was behind the planning permission to demolish the old Fibbers and build the new venue and offices. However, that company fell into receivership in April.
North Star had shares in Toft Green Developments. But its role in the Toft Green scheme – as with its role in the collapsed Roman Quarter development – was as management consultants, Paul told YorkMix.
“We were there to assist in getting planning through, which we did eventually, and then to deliver and work with the investors to deliver.”
But following a “very difficult six months” for the investors, they were unable to fund the scheme.
“The world has changed,” he said. “Look at what happened with Liz Truss and the emergency budget last year. That was the beginning of the end for investment.”
A sudden rise in interest rates “made it untenable and uninvestable”.
“We’ve tried our hardest, we tried to encourage our investors to put more money in but they just can’t do it.”
As for the music venue, “people are genuinely upset that we can’t deliver, but maybe that will change with times,” he said.
“From my perspective it will be very difficult to resurrect unless there was a big change in the funding market, which will only happen if interest rates come down, which can take another year to 18 months or so.”
He said everyone involved was “very disappointed”.
Fibbers was a legendary live music venue, hosting a host of famous names including Nirvana and Sonic Youth over nearly 30 years.
It ran for many years in Stonebow House before moving to Toft Green. That venue closed in January 2020 as the site was earmarked for development.
The new music venue planned for Toft Green was to have been run by Jimmy’s, the company founded by George and Jimmy Craig. They are the Helmsley brothers who found chart fame with the band One Night Only then opened a series of music-themed bars in different cities.
A branch of Jimmy’s was opened on Low Petergate in 2021. It closed just over a year later so the team could take over at the planned live music venue on Toft Green.
Pete Kilbane, who has championed live music in the city and is now deputy council leader, said: “It is bitterly disappointing to see the Fibbers site slowly rotting away when it could be such a great cultural space in the city.
“As with the proposed Roman Museum this looks like yet another broken promise to the residents, cultural institutions and businesses of York from the developers.
“Their ambitions may be dead in the water, but planning permission has been granted on this site and we really hope that a reputable developer will step forward and create the mid-size capacity music venue that York so clearly needs.”