Could Parliament Street get its first pub for 51 years?

When The Clock Inn clocked out of Parliament Street in 1966, the street became one of the few in York without its own pub.

But could that be about to change?

Permission is being sought to enable a former Parliament Street shop to become a bar or a pub.

What previously housed Monsoon Children, next door to M&S, could become a watering hole under plans submitted to City of York Council.

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This is a speculative application – there is no bar waiting to move in. But the plan proposes that the ground floor and potentially the first floor could be turned into customer seating and bar areas. Higher floors would be for staff use.

Opening hours are envisaged as 8am to midnight daily under the proposal.

Can’t attract new shop

The former Monsoon Children shop on Parliament Street. Photographs: Richard McDougall

The owners of 39 Parliament Street, Northern Retail Consortium Ltd, are asking for a change of use to ‘drinking establishment’ because they say they are struggling to let it as a shop.

In a statement to planners, they say:

The property was last occupied as a retail shop by Monsoon Children who relocated during September 2017 to their other branch in the city centre.

The property has been marketed to let since 2010 without attracting a suitable and willing Class A1 (shop) tenant.

Offering the Grade II listed building as a potential bar or pub would improve “the prospects of this prominent city centre unit being reoccupied by a new tenant, rather than it remaining vacant”.

For the same reason they are also applying for permission to market the property as a potential restaurant, hot food takeaway – or an office for ‘financial and professional services’.

Next door to old pub

The last pub on Parliament Street… for now – the Clock Inn. Photograph: The Directory Of York Pubs

Interestingly the building in question is next door but one to the property which was occupied by Parliament Street’s last pub.

The Clock Inn once stood in what is now Claire’s Accessories. You can still see where the old pub sign used to hang above the shop doorway.

According to the definitive guide – A Directory Of York Pubs by Hugh Murray – The Clock Inn was previously known as the Eagle, adopting its new name in 1867.

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By 1902 it had five bedrooms, one set aside for travellers. On the ground floor were a smoke room, sitting room and dram shop.

It sounds fairly basic by modern standards – the family which ran the pub shared a loo with the customers.

You can see the decorative arch which used to house the pub sign on the front of what is now Claire’s Accessories

The Clock Inn closed in April 1966.

Although the last of Parliament Street pub, it wasn’t the only one. Others included The Albion, previously known as the Yorkshireman, which closed in 1881.

The Brunswick Vaults operated as a pub and a brewery in the 1800s. So too did the Crown Inn, which closed in 1871.

Shops v pubs

Another view of the former shop

The decision to remarket a long-established retail unit as a pub, bar or restaurant, will reopen the debate about how York city centre is developing.

Under the city’s draft local plan Parliament Street is both part of the central shopping area, and defined as a primary shopping street.

Under City of York Council policy, that means any plan to change the use of a ground floor business from retailing “will only be permitted provided that it does not detract from the primary shopping function and contributes to the vitality and viability of these areas”.

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News that owners are struggling to find a new retailer for the premises will feed into concerns about York’s future as a shopping destination.

There has already been a lot of debate about the situation on Coney Street, which has a number of empty shops.

And the York Retail Forum has set out a six-part plan to revitalise the city centre.