Plans submitted for temporary community project on Piccadilly

Spark:York has submitted a planning application to City of York Council to create a unique space in York city centre, home to a community of local independent retailers, street food traders and social enterprises.

Directed by three York residents, the plans seek planning permission to transform the former Reynard’s Garage on Piccadilly into a driver of community-led regeneration in the city’s ‘Castle Gateway’. The site has been derelict for over 20 years, with the building finally razed to the ground in September 2016. The new space is based around 20 shipping containers, repurposed as a venue for retail, restaurant, office and performance space. The plans also include a co-working space that would create room for over 20 socially-minded enterprises, community herb garden, and a free meeting space for local groups. The three year project will open this Summer, and close by 30th June 2020.

Spark:York Director Sam Leach says: “The plans we’ve submitted reflect a six month process of consultation with local residents and businesses. Ideas have adapted and matured, reflecting the opinions of local people who are seeking to regenerate a tired part of our City. We have listened, and feel these are exciting and professional plans that will greatly enhance the area.”

Having received close to 300 expressions of interest from small, local businesses and individuals who are seeking a place in York to showcase their talents, Spark:York Director Tom McKenzie said: “We have highlighted an unmet need for affordable space in York. By speaking to numerous potential tenants, it is to us clear that city centre rents prohibit business ideas becoming a reality across the city. We hope to change that.”

As a registered Community Interest Company, Spark:York will re-invest all of its profits into activities that benefit York residents. Spark:York Director Joe Gardham says the site will be 100% accessible to all and will focus on inclusivity: “We are excited to engage people from all corners of York, including those most vulnerable, isolated and on the fringes of our communities. We will run programmes for York’s older population, helping fight social isolation and loneliness; we will support health and wellbeing outcomes by running daily, low intensity fitness sessions; we’ve been in discussions with York Mumbler to create a much-needed City Centre space for parents to socialise and access services; and hope to attract schools and young people to take part in fun, interactive educational sessions. By working with these communities, we hope to reduce the strain on local public services, improve quality of life for York residents, and enhance life chances for those unable to access opportunities.”

The Rt. Hon The Lord Mayor of York, Cllr. Dave Taylor recently pledged his support to the proposed plans, commenting. “I was extremely passionate about saving the former Reynard’s Garage / Airspeed Factory on Piccadilly, and its destruction was a tragic loss of York’s heritage in aviation. However, that is now the reality of the situation. The site has stood derelict and unused for over ten years pre-demolition, and for nearly a year since demolition, so I am keen to see a positive use of the site which will give something back to the people of York. The plans put forward to the council by Spark:York appear to do just that, with substantial benefits for the community, and a real chance for young businesses to grow and blossom in the city centre. I very much look forward to opening the site in 2017.”

Peter Pendlebury, Landlord of neighbouring Grade II listed Red Lion public house, Merchantgate, also supports the project, saying: “I believe this project will be a great addition to this city, something new and fresh and will bring some vibrancy to the Piccadilly area which has been an eyesore for quite some time now. I am looking forward to the opening and wish you and your team all the best.”

Notes to Editor

    105 people attended the Spark:York public consultation event, held at Hiscox, Peasholme Green on Thursday 26th January 2017.

    For interviews with the Directors, please contact / 07551 008 631

    Spark:York can be found on twitter @spark_york, facebook: /sparkyork and online at

    To view the planning application on the planning portal, search here: