City centre bookshop to become York’s latest restaurant

Photograph: Engin_Akyurt / Pixabay

A former bookshop is set to become a restaurant – and there are already many potential new tenants.

St Pauls bookshop on Fossgate closed earlier this year and owners Stephensons Properties has now applied for planning permission to turn the empty unit into an eatery with space for 59 diners.


The application says there has been little interest in renting the store from retailers but a number of restaurateurs are keen to move to Fossgate.

And it is being viewed more as a ‘specialist restaurant street’.

Retail tenant unlikely

Ripe for redevelopment? The former bookshop on Fossgate
The two-storey building dates back to the early 1960s and has two parking spaces.

A statement to planners states:

  • Over the years Fossgate has almost become a specialist restaurant street in the city rather than retail-oriented.

    Stephenson Properties are keen to ensure the ground floor is not stood empty for a long period of time like several units within the city centre.

    The ground floor is currently a retail unit however due to the economic climate gaining a new tenant in this field will prove difficult due to the unit’s size and in this location.

    In a time when there are a number of unoccupied commercial units in the city this should be acted on in a positive manner.

The applicants say a kitchen and bar would need to be installed as well as an accessible toilet, to turn the unit into a restaurant or cafe.

Fossgate revamp

Up for a revamp… Fossgate. Photograph: visityork.org
Fossgate is set to get a £500,000 revamp at the beginning of 2019, with plans to widen the pavement, plant trees and create better road crossings. Benches and bike stands will also be installed and new traffic signs will be put up.

The planning application says the closure of the street for the Fossgate festival has also added to it’s reputation as a food destination.

It says: “In recent years Fossgate has undergone a period of change it has developed from a street which was largely occupied by small traditional retailers into a more recreational street with a series of bars and restaurants.

“This has been partly led by the change in peoples shopping habits which has affected many city centres.”

There have also been calls to fully pedestrianise the street.