Spark:York applies to ditch plans for ‘unaffordable’ timber exterior

18 Jun 2018 @ 9.06 pm
| Business

The directors behind York’s new box park have applied to vary the planning conditions at the venue.

Spark:York opened on May 4, with a mixture of shops and food and drink outlets trading from converted shipping containers.


In the original planning application, the containers were shown clad in timber. But when no cladding was installed at the finished park on Piccadilly, several people complained to City of York Council.

Independent councillor Mark Warters also joined the criticism. He said if wooden cladding wasn’t installed immediately “the site should be shut down as a breach of the lease”.

Now one of the Spark:York directors Sam Leach has submitted an application to retrospectively vary the planning conditions to remove the requirement for exterior cladding.

Unaffordable solution

In documents submitted to the council, the company says that the timber cladding would now make the project unaffordable.

The original cladding as proposed was designed to be functional, “acting as a balustrade to the staircases and the upper floor area”.

But it had a visual benefit, “to enclose the industrial exterior of the site, and to screen the containers to the public, in views from both public vantage points and neighbouring dwellings”.

The new planning submission states:

The inclusion of a timber cladding solution would be simply prohibitive of the scheme and make the project unaffordable, based on its short term, temporary duration of trading.

An alternative metal meshed balustrade has been delivered to provide a functional and visually professional finish to the external balustrade.

Work from local artists has brought much needed colour to the development and street, and has made reference to historical images of the site’s former purpose, which we feel is a fitting way of bringing an imaginative and well delivered exterior delivery.

Impressive final finish

Founders Tom McKenzie and Sam Leach
Sam told YorkMix: “We are happy that our variation to condition is now open to public comment and consultation.

“While temporary, our vision has always been to make a tangible and vibrant difference to Piccadilly and encourage visitors to the area through offering something with a different energy and aesthetic.

“We believe we have delivered a unique and impressive final finish that promotes art and celebrates the heritage of the site. We feel this has been proven with positive economic turnover, footfall and social returns on investment.

“We have received significant public support, and we hope that planners will accept the variation to the condition so that we can continue to support our community of independent local businesses, as well as the wider community.”

Spark:York is operating on a three-year lease from the council. It ends on June 30, 2020.