Family friendly food hall or York’s ‘biggest, booziest bar’? Battle lines drawn over Stonebow House

Stonebow House – the food hall is planned for the near end. Photograph: YorkMix
19 Nov 2018 @ 8.03 pm
| Food & Drink

Developers say a new food hall will bring young and old together in a community hub.

But a residents group say that is a smokescreen, and Try Market Halls really want “to turn Stonebow House into the biggest, booziest bar in York”.

And the two sides will face one another at a council licensing hearing on November 29.

The St Saviourgate Residents Association has been set up to fight the proposal and protect the interests of the elderly residents of Lady Hewley’s Cottages, close to Stonebow House, and local families.

The association says around 100 local businesses and residents have written to object to the licensing application, which would see the food hall serve alcohol from 10.30am to 11pm Sunday to Wednesday, and till midnight Thursday to Saturday.

Stags, hens and racegoers

The licensing application notice on the window of Stonebow House
The campaigners say the proposed “family friendly food hall” is a smokescreen for what could become the largest drinking venue in York and a magnet for stags, hens and racegoers.

Lady Hewley’s Cottages, just 50 yards from Stonebow House, is home to elderly residents who “want York councillors to put residents first and reject this application”.

Annie lives there. She said:

  • York is already struggling to cope with the anti-social behaviour that comes with binge drinking.

    We want to feel safe in our homes and on our street. We already have trouble with drunken groups keeping us awake at night and the street looks a mess the next day, with vomit, discarded take-aways and the stench of urine.

    It’s time for councillors to back the people of York and say enough is enough.

Place for families

The St Saviourgate side of the proposed food hall
David Laycock, of developer Try Market Halls, said there were letters in support the new food hall as well those objecting to it.

And they were working with city leaders including the York BID and Make It York to make the food hall a community asset for the city, where nine local food businesses could provide something new for York

He said the business would be 75% food and 25% drink. “It’s not going to be another beer hall.

“It will be a place where you can bring young children, where families and older people can socialise.”

The hall wasn’t for stags and hens looking to down lots of beers, David said. “We do sell drink, and occasionally it’s promoted, but I don’t agree with the word ‘boozy’ – I would suggest it has been deployed out of context.”

Understood the worries

This shows where Lady Hewley’s cottages are in comparison to the proposed food hall. Photograph © Google Street View
While there wouldn’t be a policy banning groups, staff would be trained to spot and intercept excessive drinking or other inappropriate behaviour.

Staff would patrol the perimeter of the building to disperse groups, and there would be a policy to curb excessive noise.

David said he understand residents worries, which was why they had carried out a consultation and changed the plans as a result.

“We are trying to be open and very sensitive to those local concerns. I will be more than happy to be held to account for what we are doing.”