They are a part of York entertainment history – and now they have been saved from the wrecking ball.

This row of 180-year-old stone arches once adorned York Theatre Royal – but they have been at 79 Fulford Road since the theatre was remodelled in 1879.

Despite their history, a developer had applied to demolish them last year.

But now planners have given the go-ahead to a new apartment development on the site, which saves the arches.

Lengthy planning wrangle

This Google 3D image shows the buildings behind the facade. Photograph © Google Street View

The building behind the stonework was most recently used as a children’s nursery, but lay empty before it was demolished in recent months.

The site has been at the centre of a lengthy planning wrangle, but this week planners confirmed they were approving plans for a ground floor café in a new building incorporating the arches.

There will be six apartments above and three houses in historic coach house buildings at the back of the site.

In their report, the planners said:

The proposed development has evolved since its first submission to a scheme that can be supported by officers.

The site is compact and a balance has been struck by preserving the existing stone arcade arches in situ whilst creating a development that sits comfortably within the site and preserves the character of the conservation area.

Several neighbours opposed the plans, saying the new flats would overlook their gardens, blocking out light and impinging on their privacy.

‘Over development’

The arcade as it was. Photograph: Amanda Todd

The area’s conservation advisory panel welcomed changes to the proposals to keep the stone arches, and the fact the coach houses will be saved but said they still feared that would create an over-development of the site.

The new homes will all be accessed down Howard Street, off Fulford Road.

Residents there were concerned that more cars using the narrow residential road will worsen congestion, while pulling out on to Fulford Road is already hazardous because of parked cars.

Council officials, however, did not lodge any objections on the grounds of highway safety and instead simply asked that new residents be excluded from residents’ parking permits for the area.

History of the arches

The arcade when it was part of York Theatre Royal. Photograph: Amanda Todd

When St Leonard’s Place was created in about 1834, a new entrance to York Theatre Royal was built and included the arcade by John Harper

This was replaced in about 1879 by the theatre exterior we see today – and the old eight-arch arcade was put up in Fulford Road

Back then 79 Fulford Road was the coach house to the York Priory directly opposite, built in 1876 by seed merchant Isaac Poad as a wedding present for his daughter

When the alterations to the Theatre Royal were made, some of the redundant stonework went into the Priory garden

In more recent years 79 Fulford Road has been a garage, a doctor’s surgery, and the Pipkins Nursery