A DECISION on whether a former Chinese restaurant in York can become a late-night karaoke bar is set to be made early in the new year.

Plans for the refurbishment of the old Royal Dragon in Barbican Road have been submitted to City of York Council, but have been criticised by local residents.

The applicant, ZL Chen, wants to turn the building into a music venue called The Regency. The council granted a licence last month, but the proposed new venture still needs planning permission.

The site is being renovated, with plans to feature a ground-floor restaurant, three dining rooms for parties on the upper levels, and 11 karaoke rooms. Agents for Mr Chen said “significant investment” was being made in the building, which also once housed The Spotted Cow pub.

Council planners are expected to decide in mid-January whether the plans can go ahead, but they previously raised “significant concerns” about the venue’s licence application, which also drew objections from nearby residents, due to the owners wanting to open until 3.30am every day.

A planning statement by town planners JWPC said the capacity of The Regency would be 100 and it would create ten new jobs. It also said the building was “of historic merit” and at risk, despite not being listed.

It said: “The building is in need of a new use. The proposal therefore seeks to secure a new role for the upper floors which is both economically viable and consistent with the building’s conservation.”

The firm said soundproofing measures were included in the design to prevent music “impacting unreasonably” on nearby residents, and the last entry time for customers - who will have to eat at the restaurant to use the karaoke facilities - would be midnight.

It said the scheme would “preserve the site’s historic character” and pay for its future upkeep.

Eight objections have been received from local residents, saying the proposed karaoke bar is in the wrong location as it would be next to a residential area, and raising fears about noise disturbance, including people continuing to sing after leaving.