SPARK:York bosses have revealed that the site could in future have an urban farm and space for businesses to make their products as well as sell them.

The plans emerged after it was revealed that the social space and street food hub could stay for another two years.

The project - which opened its doors in Piccadilly on May 4, 2018 - was due to shut in June.

But council bosses are now planning to extend the scheme's lease to 2022 - until the site is ready to be redeveloped as part of the Castle Gateway programme.

Spark directors Sam Leach and Tom McKenzie said they are "over the moon" that they may be able to stay.

Tom said: "We will start working with new businesses and breathe a new lease of life into the project - if you'll excuse the pun.

"In terms of interest - there has been more of a sway towards retailers, selling crafts and businesses who are on Etsy - people who may have an online presence but not a physical shop.

"We set out to reflect the demand and it's interesting to see more retailers getting in touch.

"I think the retail industry is reinventing itself and nearly all of our retailers have gone into permanent premises.

"There is a lack of space to create or make things in York and that's where we are getting a lot of interest too. We have had inquiries from someone who wants a space to make and sell vegan chocolate - so we can offer manufacturing space too."

The venue has welcomed about 800,000 visitors in the 20 months since it opened.

And it has also become a regular event space for 100 different groups - from residents' associations to parent and toddler clubs, craft co-operatives to organisations such as Extinction Rebellion.

Improving the community spaces is also one of Tom and Sam's priorities - now that it looks like the lease will be extended.

Sam said: "Our priority is and always has been about supporting people in York to set their businesses up.

"People have had opportunities to set up in other cities and have decided to come here to York.

"York is quite good at change, if it wants something to change.

"People want to start their businesses here so let's try to enable them to do so."

The pair had offers to take the concept to other cities.

But Sam added: "We felt we could continue to deliver more. You learn things in the first couple of years. We feel that we now know what works here and how we can support businesses and community groups. It would be a shame to have lost the opportunity to put that into practice.

"We are two people born and bred in York and passionate about the city. We set up Spark because we like this place and we care about it. It's never been a chance to get to somewhere else."

Tom added: "We are not that smart."

Spark will also be showing the Euros, Wimbledon and Olympic games this summer. The cladding will be installed in the coming weeks, the pair said.

Cllr Nigel Ayre will be asked to make a decision on extending the short term lease of 17-21 Piccadilly to Spark:York for two more years at a meeting on February 14.