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Owners claim Stonebow House in York has development potential
THE owners of a York office block – dubbed the city’s worst eyesore – have defended the building after a petition was launched calling for it to be bulldozed.
Critics of Stonebow House have launched a rallying call for support for the demolition of the 1960s structure, with an online petition on City of York Council’s website, set to run until the end of May.
But the London-based estate fund management firm which owns it said it is currently three-quarters full, with most of its occupants having many years to run on their leases, and there was still interest from other parties about moving into the remaining space.
F&C REIT Asset Management, which bought Stonebow House five years ago, also said the site had development potential and talks would be held with the council about its prospects.
The petition, signed by more than 35 people, was set up by York resident Philip J Paul, who has also placed another petition on the Government website Directgov which will run until next April and has 45 signatures.
Mr Paul said in a recent letter to The Press he believed Stonebow House was universally unpopular in the city and its demolition could pave the way for a new public open space to allow better views of the area’s churches and link the area with the Hungate redevelopment site.
He said the time was right for demolition to be considered but F&C REIT asset manager Paul Smith said: “We acquired Stonebow House as part of a larger portfolio transaction in 2007. To this date, we have been heavily involved in retaining and attracting new tenants to this well-located building. Stonebow House is currently 75 per cent let, with most leases expiring in the next five to ten years. In addition we have positive interest in the remaining vacant suites.
“F&C REIT is aware of the site’s medium to long-term development potential and the future of the building will involve an open dialogue with all key stakeholders. We have engaged with the council regarding the site’s development potential and will continue these positive discussions in the future.”
Mr Smith said detailed talks would be held with the authority on a variety of issues surrounding Stonebow House in the future, and a full consultation would be carried out at an appropriate time.
St Saviourgate – which those calling for Stonebow House to be knocked down have said would be made more prominent if the building was removed – was one of York's most fashionable streets during Georgian and Victorian times.
St Saviour's Church has stood on its current site since the 11th century, with the present building dating back to the 15th century.
The street also has Georgian houses and is home to St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, the oldest non-conformist church in the city, having been built in 1693.