Planning boost for York 'jewellery quarter'

Artists impression of the planned Beaverbrooks <i>(Image: supplied)</i>
Artists impression of the planned Beaverbrooks (Image: supplied)

Ambitious plans for an upmarket ‘jewellery quarter’ in York have taken a major step forward.

City of York Council has approved plans concerning two separate retailers in Davygate.

Beaverbrooks, which already has a shop at 4 Spurriergate, has gained consent for a new shopfront at 9-13 Davygate.

The backing comes as council planners also gave their backing to a new shop frontage at nearby 4 Davygate, which until recently contained a branch of the Halifax.

In October, Beaverbrooks applied to City of York Council to say it sought a single store with Tag Huer at the site that until recently contained Accessorize and Space NK boutiques, which closed in September.

A council report says the Beaverbrooks scheme would retain existing shopfront surrounds but would replace the framing with mullion windows.

Planning staff said: “The alterations are fairly minor in scope but they will freshen up the appearance of the building and the introduction of the mullions will help complement the streetscape vernacular by introducing a more vertical emphasis to the shopfronts.”

Recommending approval, they concluded: “The proposals will complement the building and preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area.”

Council planning staff have also approved plans from the Watches of Switzerland Group at 4 Davygate.

The site, between Betty’s Cafe and the former Debenhams unit, has been empty since the Halifax Building Society pulled out in 2018.

Watches of Switzerland can now install a new glazed shopfront with glass fins, new framed doors and security shutter for a new Breitling watch store.

Breitling is a Swiss luxury watchmaker founded in 1884 and is known for its precision-made chronometers designed for aviators.

Planners said the scheme is also in the conservation area with the building described as ‘very attractive’ with its pillars and columns.

They concluded: “The proposals will complement the building and preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area.”

However, the scheme only concerns the ground floor of the building, which also has a basement, plus a first and second floor, which was outside this planning application.

The approvals follow similar approval being given last month for the design of a prestigious new Mappin & Webb jewellery store in the same street.

The Watches of Switzerland sought a new shop frontage for part of the former Debenhams store on Davygate and the adjoining former Virgin Money store on the corner of Davygate and New Street.

Their proposals will merge the vacant units into one larger premises as the Mappin & Webb, including alterations to the shopfronts and entrances.

The approved design changes followed consultation with conservation groups.

Similarly, just the ground floor of the empty department store, which closed in December 2019,  just prior to the pandemic, will be used in the development.