Spark:York looks set to remain in Piccadilly for three more years to give it time to find a new home and for the city council to find someone to build social housing on the site.

Supporters of the container development praise its role in attracting visitors by adding uniqueness and vibrancy to York’s city centre, as well as successfully incubating start-up businesses.

But opponents say its appearance detracts from the historic appearance of central York, whilst generating insufficient revenues for council coffers.

City of York Council has long wanted to see affordable housing built on the site, but a report for a council meeting on Thursday reports little interest from developers in this, due to rising costs.


“Options to provide affordable housing provision on this site will continue to be explored,” it said.

The current Spark lease is due to expire on October 31 next year, but allowing Spark two further years will “allow time for opportunities to be explored to allow this facility to re-locate elsewhere in the city".

Extending the lease until October 31, 2026, would "provide greater security to this local business and allow continuity of operation for a vibrant city centre venue which is home to a multitude of small businesses, and part of the vibrant city centre offer to residents and visitors".

York Press: SPARK is also a finalist

The report notes Spark, which has occupied the site of the former Reynard’s Garage since 2017 is “a great example” of temporarily using empty buildings and spaces.

It says the “pop-up container development hosting many small, local, retail, food, and drink businesses” is “hugely successful".

“Spark York has proven to be popular and continues to bring vibrancy and activity to Piccadilly. 17 out of 19 units are currently occupied and the others are under offer, particularly appealing to start-up businesses.

York Press:

“In addition, there are art studios, co working space and meeting rooms. Spark advise that 21 of their previous occupiers have moved on as part of those businesses’ growth.

“They also estimate that there is a £4m turnover from current businesses providing 65 jobs and attracting 400,000 visitors a year to the facility. They also advise that they provide free space to community groups to meet which has totalled 800 hours in the last year.”

The report prepared for a meeting of the council’s Executive on Thursday concluded: “Given the success of Spark:York and the lack of interest by Registered Providers in the affordable housing proposition” the extension “will provide further time to work with Spark to ascertain if an alternative venue within York could be suitable, such as York Central. Affordable Housing provision on this site will continue to be explored.”

Such a move to York Central was suggested by council chiefs last year and Spark themselves have been looking at potential locations on the development site.