Questions raised about “Rose Theatre” reconstruction timetable

Reconstructed Rose Theatre planned for Castle car park

It seems that the announcement on Saturday – through the pages of the Yorkshire Post – took many people by surprise. Tourist organisations, the local authority, businesses and other media outlets were left playing “catch up” as they scrambled to give their take, on the event, to a receptive audience.

It seems that the leaked information came from the prospective producers of the plays and may have been prompted by concerns that the temporary use of the Castle car park was due to be mentioned – unspecifically – in the York Councils Forward Plan which was published on Monday.

The plan says that the project will be discussed at the Councils Executive meeting taking place on 31st August. The background papers for that meeting will be published in a couple of weeks’ time.

Sources at the Council claim that there is still much work to be done to come up with an effective alternative parking/transport plan to make up for the loss of capacity and income from the Castle car park – York’s busiest.

Barley Hall off Stonegate

There is limited spare capacity on most days of the year at the adjacent Coppergate centre multi storey (287 spaces) and St Georges Field (150 spaces) but nothing like sufficient to make up for a loss of 360 spaces at Castle. The Council has recently closed the Castle Mills car park leaving private sector options like Garden Place, Tanner Row and George Street anticipating a big hike in income.

But it is the timing of the announcement that leads to concerns.

Arguably any debate about a project of this size should have been concluded months ago.

 An “Elizabethan” themed summer tourist season could provide a major boost for period visitor attractions, like the Barley Hall and the Merchant Adventurers Hall, while also helping to maintain high customer numbers at hotels and restaurants.

During its Shakespearian season, the Rose project hopes to attract circa 50,000 paying customers.

To put that in context, it is nearly three times more than attended last year’s Mystery Plays at the Minister.

Marketing of the event needs to start soon.

Merchant Adventurers Hall – a stones throw from the proposed Rose Theatre location

Major hotels and visitor attractions in York are already drafting their programmes and brochures for 2018. It would be a shame if this important event wasn’t given the prominence that it deserves.

One of the reasons why the Mystery Plays didn’t attract the hoped for level of attendance was lack of early publicity in key Far East and American markets. Decisions on 2018 long haul holiday destinations will be taken by many potential visitors over the next few weeks.

So, if there is frustration at the pace of progress on the Rose Theatre project, we can understand it. The York Council and Visit York have a relatively short time to maximise the economic value that a quality “Elizabethan” summer experience could bring to the City.

As we saw with the TdF “Grand Departee concert fiasco, long term planning is all important.

Hopefully the lessons have been learned.

What’s on in York – UPDATE – TICKETS SOLD OUT The HandleBards present…As You Like It

Merchant Adventurers’ Hall

Tue 25 Jul

7.00pm – 9.30pm

Adult: £15 / Child (16 or under): FREE (when accompanied by a paying adult)

Handle Bards (Girls ) With BasketsRosalind and Orlando have been forced into exile in the Forest of Arden. As lovers, they become entangled in a bizarre game of lust, love and mistaken identity.

In usual HandleBards style, you can expect riotous amounts of energy, a fair old whack of chaos, and a great deal of laughter.

The performances will be in the Great Hall and we will provide seating. There will also be tasty snacks and refreshments available at an additional charge from The Merchants’ Coffee House available before the performance and at the interval. So grab your finest group of friends and come watch some first-rate Shakespeare in the stunning surroundings of the Hall!

MAH Logo On White

Adult: £15 / Child (16 or under): FREE (when accompanied by a paying adult)

Tickets will be available on the day at £17.

Tickets can be purchased over the phone (01904) 654818 or in person from the Hall.

What’s on in York: The Company of Merchant Adventurers and their Hall

York Explore Library :

Tue 9 May :

6.15 pm – 7.45pm :

£6 (£5 with a YorkCard)

May _9MerchantThe Merchant Adventurers’ Hall wears many hats. Not only is it a Grade 1 Listed Building and Scheduled Ancient Monument but it is also museum, wedding and hospitality venue, meeting place and home to the Company of Merchant Adventurers of the City of York.

In its 660th year, this talk will delve a little deeper into the history of this medieval marvel and reveal the fascinating story of the Hall, the unique organisation who have called it home for seven centuries and its place within the history of York.

Tickets are £6 each, or £5 with a YorkCard, and are available from all Explore libraries and from the Inspire website (

Fossgate street entry gateway sign opposed by Council officials

Existing banner

A plan by York Civic Trust, which could have given the Fossgate area a boost, is being opposed by conservation officers at the Council.

The proposal would see the existing fabric banner at the entrance to the street replaced by a purpose designed metal equivalent.

The sign is intended to enhance the profile of a street which was badly affected by the 2015 floods. Now prospering once more and rapidly – with neighbouring Walmgate – becoming the City’s premier dining out location, the expectation was the the unique sign would have been broadly welcomed.

Indeed – unusually for York – there have been no objections to the plan with both conservation bodies and traders united in support of the proposals.

The design of the new sign celebrates the history of the street which contains one of the entrances to the 14th century Merchant Adventurers Hall.  It also reflects the role of the street as a former fish wharf.

Proposed replacement metal banner

The concern of the planners appears to revolve around the loss of a key streetscape view (although the new banner is in fact less intrusive than the existing signage).

The Council has allocated £500,000 in its budget this year to improve the environment in the street. It is widely expected that the street will be partly pedestrianised with the existing ugly bitmac carriageway being paved over.

The planning departments views represent the latest in a series of awkward positions taken by the Council.

They have approved plans for an ugly visitor centre next to Cliiffords Tower and nodded through a plan for an “arts barge” on a sensitive part of the river bank.

The Planning committee has yet to consider the even more bizarre plan to site shipping containers on Piccadilly, although the Council’s leaders have already endorsed that project.

The Fossgate proposal will be considered by a planning sub committee on 6th April. Background papers can be read by clicking here