SPARK:York is already playing its part in revitalising the high street - with a number of independent businesses leaving the venue to move into empty shops in the city centre - say the directors.

And with the project’s permission due to come to an end next June, Spark’s bosses say they would consider staying on the site longer if the council wanted them to.

A number of businesses that took up units at Spark have moved on to permanent premises - including hairdresser Jody Toner who opened a new salon in a bricks-and-mortar building in York city centre after a successful year and restaurant Cardamom and Dill who are moving into a vacant shop in Gillygate.

Co-founder Tom McKenzie said: “It’s already contributing to revitalising the high street that sense. Spark offers a platform for new businesses to test their concept and understand the viability of trading in York.

“It proves the concept that a good number of businesses have moved on to empty shops in the city, and are developing permanent, long term premises in York as a result.”

“We always set out to be a testing ground or an incubation facility for new ideas, and to allow businesses to start out in the city centre without the risk of long term leases, and very high rents and business rates.”

And with the end of the project’s agreed lease in sight - on June 30 2020 - he added: “Beyond that it would be up to City of York Council really if they wanted us to stay on the site any longer. It depends entirely on the future use of the site and the timescales that support that change.”

The site is included in the council’s Castle Gateway redevelopment plans and under the current proposals Spark would also be replaced with a permanent complex of small independent shops and businesses.

Cladding is also set to be installed on the containers after a planning wrangle. Tom said: “We’ve had some physical sample options made up for the local planning authority to approve, to which we are currently awaiting an outcome.We can then confirm a date for the full installation.”