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York Chocolate Story's café plan dropped after backlash from buskers
9:41am Thursday 9th August 2012 in News
CONTROVERSIAL plans for a street café in York’s King’s Square have been withdrawn – and the area could now undergo a huge regeneration.
Continuum, which runs York’s Chocolate Story, has withdrawn its plans for a café outside its building following a backlash from street performers who use the square.
Council planning officers yesterday recommended the plan be approved, but Continuum withdrew its application nonetheless. The firm said it hoped to find a way in future to “share the square”.
The Press can reveal City of York Council has drawn up plans to develop the square as part of the Reinvigorate York programme, which could see the road narrowed and two parking bays removed to expand the pedestrianised area.
The section of Colliergate near the square could also be repaved, in a similar style to Coney Street, to make it feel more pedestrian-friendly.
Sir Ron Cooke, chairman of Reinvigorate York, said the aim was to “improve and enhance” the square and said he hoped the wishes of everyone who uses the square could be accommodated.
Coun Dave Merrett , the council’s cabinet member for transport issues, said the plans were still being designed ad would go to public consultation in the autumn at the earliest.
The Press understand that motorists with disabled badges will still be able to park further along Colliergate.
Buskers, who had feared the proposed café would squeeze them out of their pitch nd had organised a huge petition against the proposal, yesterday welcomed Continuum’s decision to shelve their plans.
Escapologist Rob Roy Collins said he was delighted the firm had “seen sense and listened to the outcry from the public”.
He said: “We have been overwhelmed by the public support, which included 5,200 people who signed the petition in a couple of weeks.”
He said he hoped all parties in the square could now build bridges.
Mark Wallis, a regular performer in the square and one of those behind the petition, said: “We are all extremely happy and I’m sure the people of York are happy. It has been the people of York coming forward saying ‘we want our open space and don’t want it taking over’.”
Chrissie and Ed Jackson, who run lemonade and ice cream stalls on the square, said: “It has been obvious from the overwhelming response to the campaign of opposition to the development that the people of York hold this space very dearly. We hope we can all now put this behind us and that the King’s Square community can work together to ensure that any future alterations to this beautiful space meets the needs and wishes of vistors, surrounding businesses and most importantly the people of York themselves.”
Kevin Smith, Continuum’s director of attractions, said the firm had never aimed to drive buskers from the square. He said: “They add vibrancy to the area, and we are keen to see them remain part of a shared square,” he said. “(But) our ‘share the square’ perspective has clearly not been fully heard.”
He said it would now “consider a way forward with all stakeholders on how we might, in future, best share the square to everyone’s benefit”.