Helmsley hopes for Coney Street success
York-based developer and investor Helmsley Group is optimistic that its Coney Street Riverside masterplan can find favour with the city this autumn, Place Yorkshire was told.
With plans validated, and backed by important local voices including the Chamber of Commerce, the firm is awaiting a committee date for its plans to overhaul dated retail areas and open up new linkages to an improved riverside area.
Helmsley, the dominant property owner in the Coney Street retail pitch, has put together a masterplan that includes the creation of 250,000 sq ft of mixed-use retail, leisure, commercial, residential and extensive public realm.
The underlying basis is improving the fabric of the area to provide an independent retail experience, alongside the creation and rejuvenation of the historic lanes and passageways joining Coney Street and the River Ouse together, helping to make a much larger stretch of the riverfront accessible than is the case at present.
Helmsley’s professional team is led by planner O’Neill Associates. Architects Corstorphine & Wright and Vincent & Brown are leading on different zones of the masterplan.
Director Ed Harrowsmith told Place Yorkshire: “What we see in Coney Street is a severe case of under-utilisation of upper floors. Alongi with this, the access to the riverside and the theoretically public areas there, is not really fit for purpose. There is dead space here that really could and should offer so much more to York.”
This is not an easy project to undertake, but the potential is huge, he said. “There are a lot of listed frontages, which we’re really keen to work with, but in a lot of cases, the back end of the Coney Street buildings are large additions from the 1970s or 1980s, which can come down.”
Part of the plan is a 400-bedspace student accommodation scheme, while on the retail side the emphasis will be towards smaller operations.
Upper floors residential will be pursued, while some roof alterations and improvements will be made.
As Harrowsmith said: “We’re looking to add to the ‘Yorkness’ of the area. The demand is really for boutique spaces, some of the units on Coney Street are too large and not fit for purpose now, such as the former Arcadia building. It’s a size and configuration that just doesn’t work in the modern retail landscape.”
Some of the larger retailers in the area want to remain, but wish to greatly reduce their footprint and thus outgoing rent, Harrowsmith said.
The intention is for Helmsley’s plans to play into a wider council-led agenda to major on the River Ouse as an asset, with a pedestrian walkway ultimately stretching from Lendal Bridge to the Ouse Bridge, with assets in the area already improved including the Guild Hall.
A new pedestrian bridge crossing the Ouse to North Street Gardens is also a possibility.
Helmsley’s plans are available to view on York’s planning portal across two applications, the first dealing with the area comprising the three listed buildings at 3-7 Coney Street, and the second zone covering 19-39 Coney Street – the latter area accounting for the student living and business space within the masterplan.
The application numbers are 23/00420/FUL and 22/02525/FULM.