IT’S long been seen as York's premier shopping street - but after years of Internet competition and steep business rates, followed during the past year by lockdowns and the repeated closures of non-essential retailers, nine properties are currently available to let in Coney Street.

That figure excludes two additional empty premises which went under the hammer at an auction last month - one of which sold while the other failed to reach its reserve price.

This montage shows the plethora of ‘to let’ signs posted above and in the windows of a range of former shops, from the former River Island and Warehouse fashion stores to the ex-Poundland store and several mobile phone shops.

Most shops in the street have been closed since January because of the latest lockdown, with just a small number of ‘essential’ retailers, such as Boots, WH Smiths and Holland & Barrett, and a couple of takeaways, still serving customers.

However, non-essential retail units are set to reopen again on Monday, April 12, under the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, and there are hopes that the street as a whole will revive in time.

Chartered surveyor Barry Crux, of Barry Crux & Company, said last year there was still strong demand for good quality empty premises, particularly smaller units, in city centre streets, including Coney Street, where his firm had agreed the sale of an empty shop.

And developer Max Reeves, of Helmsley Group, said in December that the recovery from the pandemic would give the city an opportunity to evolve, and he claimed its future looked bright.

He said the days of generic high streets and buildings owned by remote multi billion pound funds were dying, and properties were moving into the hands of local investors, who had the interest and the passion to see the city thrive.

The group helped to bring the empty former Dorothy Perkins/Burtons store back to life last year when it agreed a 12-18 month lease to arts charity Skippko to turn it into a pop-up art gallery where local artists can display and sell their works.