Locked walkway in York could re-open to allow access to a new café-bar

A locked gate prevents access to Hornbys Passage. Photographs: Richard McDougall

Another cafe and bar is planned for the centre of York, in a move that would see the reopening of a long-closed lane.

A company called Secret Square Ltd wants to open a Kurdish food and drink venue in Hornby’s Passage off Stonegate, one of the lanes leading to the old Stonegate Walk shopping arcade.


The arcade has been closed since 2002 and the gates on the north-west side of Stonegate have remained locked for many years.

City leaders say there are no known plans for a broader reopening of the arcade, and YorkMix has been told objections have been made to Secret Square’s proposal, meaning it will be decided by councillors at a public hearing.

Courtyard seating

This leads to the old Stonegate Walk arcade
A look through the passageway

In their licensing application, the firm says:

  • The premises is a small cafe bar with courtyard seating and dining also available located in a quiet passageway off Stonegate.

    Secret Square is a food-led establishment serving Kurdish food from 11.30am to 11pm.

The application seeks an alcohol licence until 10pm from Sundays to Thursdays and until 12.30am on Friday and Saturday nights, and a live music licence until 11pm each night.

Objections have been made by people living in Stonegate Court, which was built on part of the old arcade, and by North Yorkshire Police, which generally objects to any new licensing application in the city centre.


Stonegate Arcade opened in 1981, with 18 shops and entrances from Stonegate and Blake Street, but most businesses struggled and business-owners said the arcade was not promoted well enough.

It was rebranded as Stonegate Walk in 1989 after a £1 million redevelopment, but it continued to fall short of expectations and eventually closed in 2002.

City of York Council and Make It York said there were no plans for a wider reopening of the remainder of the old arcade, as far as they know.

For more about the history of Stonegate Walk, see this article by York Stories