PLANS to convert a city centre shop into a bar or restaurant have been refused by councillors worried about the loss of retail space in York.

Landlords Rushbond Plc had applied for change of use permission to convert their unit at 11 little Stonegate, but the proposals provoked conflict with the current tenants, Laura Ashley, who wrote to the council warning they would be forced out of the city if the scheme got approval.

The company currently occupies a shop on Davygate and the ground floor of the Little Stonegate unit, operating both as one shop even though the two buildings have different landlords and different leases.

Now the Little Stonegate lease has expired the building's owners want to bring it back into use as a single unit, but ward councillor Brian Watson forced a committee hearing for the case.

Cllr Watson spoke of concerns about the loss of another shop trading in the city centre, and the cumulative impact of another drinking establishment on Little Stonegate which is already busy with drinkers.

He said there was a danger the area would become predominantly drinking establishments and added: "Surely the night time economy should not just mean drinking and causing disturbance to the residents."

Yesterday members of the area planning subcommittee voted to reject the scheme.