Former SPCK York to become a Restaurant

York Press, 05/10/2010: "Christian bookshop in Goodramgate, York to be sold for restaurant use"

York Press, 05/10/2010: "Christian bookshop in Goodramgate, York to be sold for restaurant use"

Phil Groom writes:

According to a report published 5th October 2010 in the York Press, the fate of the former SPCK Bookshop in York is now sealed as businessman Ian Loftus has secured permission to turn the premises into a restaurant:

A FORMER Christian bookshop in the centre of York is poised to come up for grabs to restaurateurs after plans to transform it were approved.

Businessman Ian Loftus has secured permission to revamp the disused Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) store in Goodramgate with the aim of attracting a high-profile dining-out name to the city.

The owner of Stonegate’s Evil Eye Lounge and House of Trembling Madness bought the building following the closure of the bookshop two years ago and hopes its availability will help revitalise the street.

The site is expected to go on the market within the next week following the approval of the plans, which involve turning the ground floor of the three-storey structure into a restaurant area, by City of York Council.

York was, of course, one of the freehold premises which was subject to a seven year covenant — full details here (pdf, 745kb) — restricting use of the the premises to trading as a Christian bookshop:

Restrictive Usage Covenant

Restrictive Usage Covenant

As suspected just under a year ago when the For Sale sign was spotted (Nov 2, 2009), it appears that the Interim Manager did not regard the covenant as binding. One can only hope that the monies received for sale of the premises has been used to pay some of the company’s creditors…

The Way It Was: SPCK York, July 2008

The Way It Was: SPCK York, July 2008

16 responses to “Former SPCK York to become a Restaurant

  1. Valiant for Truth

    So, legal covenants broken… And what about the fate of the remaining SPCK freehold shops – Chester, Hereford, Newcastle, Salisbury, Winchester and Worcester?

  2. Better ask the Interim Manager, I guess…

    The branches covered by the covenant were Bradford, Canterbury, Exeter, Truro and York.

  3. Valiant for Truth

    The branches I mention above were not handed directly to SSGCT in 2006, but were promised for a future date if they continued to be Christian bookshops. They are now all standing empty so what is the state of play as they were not actual SSGCT assets, but potential SSGCT assets so would the Interim Managers be involved? Doubtful.

  4. When a blogger contacted a person working in Land Registry in Exeter the asnwer was, “only the SPCK can enforce the covenant”. Private mail with the SPCK revealed that it was fully aware of the sale of the Exeter shop. SPCK is not enforcing the covenant. I don’t think that this has anything to do with the Interim Manager. The answer will not come from the him or the Brewers but from the SPCK itself. I kinda think that means “never”.

  5. Please excuse the typos. Had too much to say.

  6. Valiant for Truth

    It’s all so complicated you probably need a legal brain to cope, which I don’t have. The shops currently up for sale like York, plus Exeter, were in the first wave of shops given to SSGCT by SPCK from 1 November 2006 with the covenant attched. When the Charity Commission investigated SSGCT and found them lacking in cash, the Interim Managers took over the running of the “charity” in order to maximise assets to cover costs ie debts to staff and suppliers. The sale of premises would cover these costs. If SPCK exercised the covenant it would not be to control the use of the properties by the Brewers because they were no longer running the shops, so who would run the shops if it was insisted upon that they remain as Christian bookshops at a time when such places are closing or struggling? Better or not to realise the financial potential to pay for losses? The main concerns at present are that none of the money from the sale of assets reaches the pockets of the Brewers, and that the other shops remain assets of SPCK as the charity, its staff, supporters and customers paid for those shops over the years. Discuss!

  7. Gotcha. Your brain is better than mine. It also costs a lot to enforce covenants and that money could probably be better used by the SPCK. I do know that the Interim Manager was interested in Hereford…There has been no “For Sale” sign put up on the shop closest to me. I checked.

  8. Valiant for Truth

    Yes, Hereford has rather nice living accomodation attached, so another asset. I gather that the empty shops without “For Sale” signs now have notices advising of security protection – wise.

  9. Does anyone know what is going to happen to the shops that SPCK promised to hand over to the Brewers in 2013?
    What is the Interim Manager likely to do about these assets?

  10. The Chester shop is begining to look very sad and derelict . It’s in a prime position….. And it’s the only shop on that street that is empty.

    I understand that it is one of the shops owned by SPCK….. What on earth are they doing about it?

  11. Valiant for Truth

    Empty shops when the government is trying to get the private sector to replace the jobs lost in the public sector…
    No Council Tax and Business Rates income at a time when local government is losing funding from central government…
    Starts to look like a crime against the recovery of the economy
    as well as a crime against booksellers and customers

  12. Valiant for Truth

    Did hear, Annie, that in 1946 local people raised funds to enable SPCK to buy the Chester shop. What will they and their descendants now be thinking?

  13. They would be absolutely appalled ….

  14. Valiant for Truth

    As Winnie-the-Pooh would say, I’m a bear of little brain when it comes to legal matters, so I keep pondering on these sales with no real answer coming to mind just vague threads which don’t pull together. We understood that the Interim Manager was appointed to take over the running of the St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust which had debts not assets. It was not involved in St Stephen the Great LLC or any of the other later names of Brewer enterprises. So sale of assets ie shops will presumably go to paying off debts but only those up to the summer of 2007. If the shops are sold and there is money in hand what happens to this money? Can later debts be settled? Can SPCK who owned these shops recieve any money? Or, heaven forbid, the money go to SSGCT and somehow back into the hands of the Brewers? Surely this question should be answered?

  15. Pingback: Former SPCK Bookshops Four Years On: watching, waiting, wondering: it isn’t over yet | SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

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