Fight to bring huge new bar to York is dropped

A bar company facing fierce opposition to its plans for York has dropped a court fight, leaving question marks over its future in the city.

Cuban-themed bar and restaurant chain Revolucion de Cuba was bidding to open a new venue in part of the old York BHS shop on New Street. But court documents now show it has withdrawn from the fight, and the company has not commented on its future plans in York.

The firm was granted planning permission for the venue, but its application for an alcohol licence was fiercely opposed by city police. In February a panel of three councillors refused to grant a licence for New Street.

Court documents showed Revolucion de Cuba began to fight that decision in court, and hearings had been scheduled for September, but now it has emerged the company has withdrawn that appeal giving no reasons.

At February’s hearing, police argued the planned York venue would become another centre for heavy drinking in the city

Police feared ‘smokescreen’

The Revolucion de Cuba bar wanted to open on New Street, on the right of this picture. Photograph: Richard McDougall
The site lies within York’s “Cumulative Impact Zone” (CIZ) where new alcohol licences are supposed to be limited to stop more bar adding to existing problems with heavy drinking and anti-social behaviour.

At February’s hearing police also accused accused the bar chain of using the restaurant part of its application as a “smokescreen” for its real business as a high-volume drinking spot.

Bar bosses argued the chain’s style – with Latin music, food and a longer “dwell time” than other venues – and higher prices would rule out heavy drinking stag and hen groups.

They also offered earlier closing hours, conditions about door staff and emergency exits, and promised not to run “happy hour” promotions, but still could not persuade city councillors they should be allowed to open in York.

No new licences

Cllr Ashley Mason
At the time, panel chairman Cllr Ashley Mason said they had not proved that Revolucion de Cuba should be treated as an exemption to the CIZ rules.

Since the appeal was withdrawn, council staff have confirmed that no new licensing applications have been made for New Street, nor have any new planning applications been submitted which would show another company eyeing the site.

The BHS building has been empty since 2016 when the chain folded. The following summer, landlords Lloyds Bank SF Nominees divided it into three smaller units and Revolucion de Cuba made its first application for the New Street portion.