Local Authorities are required by law to obtain “best value” from disposal sites.
With a deficit of £11.4million, City of York Council can no longer afford to “do favours” to particular groups or individuals.

In particular, the prime site at 17-21 Piccadilly, currently occupied by Spark, must be used to maximise return until it can be sold for redevelopment.
The extended site lease ends on September 30, 2025. It would be fiscally irresponsible to extend this any further.
17-21 Piccadilly is earmarked for social housing above ground floor commercial use but no social housing provider has been found that is interested in a 100% affordable housing scheme.
Therefore, the site must be put on the open market to obtain the best possible return to York taxpayers.

Keeping the alien container village would be an insult to citizens who have had to look at this eyesore since 2018, after being told it would only be there for three years. It would be a betrayal of them, who have suffered its noise and smells and have been assured it would definitely go on September 30, 2025.


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Government planning rules allow councils to give temporary planning approval for use of vacant land or buildings but rarely allow a second ‘meanwhile’ use until permanent plans come forward.

Extending Spark would contravene national planning policies and put the council at risk of a legal challenge quashing that unjustified permission, with the council facing significant legal costs.

Removing Spark and clearing the site makes the land attractive for development, but if it remains in place, buyers will be put off.

A car park can generate almost ten times the return Spark and more than 16 years it paid the council in rent in its first five years.

Creating a car park with 43 spaces would cost little but its revenue would be far more substantial.
A strategic review by the council of its car parks in November 2021 showed Castle Car Park generated £1.624m in 2019/20 or £5,100 a space.

Spark could generate the same or more as it is even more convenient for the city centre. Yes, £219,300 or more a year as opposed to the current £25,000 a year.

The businesses at Spark make profits but York residents and taxpayers have not benefited.
From 2018 to 2025 Spark will have paid just over £130,000 for the site, compared to £1.66m that would have come from car parking.

Had the council used the site for parking as soon as it was cleared in 2016, it could have made over £2 million from parking.

When increased parking charges of 10p per hour are factored into calculations it can be expected that 17-21 Piccadilly would generate an income to the Council around ten times greater than that currently being paid by Spark C.I.C.

Parking use will have far less impact on the conservation area in terms of visual appearance and damage to residential amenity.

Parking use will enable the site to be sold quickly and without complications as soon as a sale to a developer has been agreed. 

Spark occupation of Piccadilly must cease when their extended lease expires in 2025. It is not reasonable to expect citizens to subsidise this venture any further. There can be no consideration of anymore extensions.

Quite apart from issues of a continued breach of planning policies and a nuisance to local residents, a further indulgence of Spark C.I.C. would be “fiscally irresponsible” when the Council is facing a financial shortfall of £11.4million.

Matthew Laverack,

Architect, Citizen and Taxpayer,

Lord Mayors Walk,