Discussion held over Harrogate Town Centre development ideas

Tower Street in Harrogate

Around 200 local businesses attended a meeting on Monday evening (9 Jan 12) where developers explained their ideas for developing the Harrogate Town Centre.



The meeting was arranged by the Chamber of Trade and Commerce and chaired by Councillor Richard Cooper, cabinet member, transport and economic & economic development.

Represented at the meeting were Lateral Property Group Ltd, Caddick Developments Ltd, Commercial Estates Group and Gregory Property Group.

Discussed at the meeting:

  • Pedestrianisation of Parliament Street with the re-routing of traffic down Montpellier
  • Retail, leisure, residential apartment and new transport interchange development on Station Parade
  • Re-letting of Coptall Bridge House retail and office premises on Station Parade/ Station Bridge
  • Proposed new Travelodge Hotel, retail and leisure space on Tower Street, West Park

 

Pedestrianisation of Parliament Street

Lateral property, based in Harrogate and headed by Philip Lunn had some months ago proposed a development of Parliament Street where the street would be pedestrianised and the area around the cenotaph turned into a large area of hard-standing to create a plaza.



Traffic would be re-routed down Montpellier and then rejoin the original route at the existing traffic lights at the bottom of Parliament Street.

This proposal gained very little support at the meeting with the sensibility of traffic re-routing coming under scrutiny.

Although this meeting had been planned for many months, Philip Lunn from Lateral did not attend, being occupied with other business and had indicated that the plans were not  sufficiently developed to be presented. A PR company attended in his absence to take away questions to be answered at a later date.

The proposal gained little support from the room with Councillor Cooper even asking at one point for some positive comments.

Lateral have indicated that they will be publishing further information on their proposals at Easter.

Pros

  • Creates a useful large area of outdoor space, similar to millennium Square in Leeds that could be used for events such as markets, an ice rink and live concerts.
  • Helps develop Parliament Street as a stronger retail area.

Cons

  • Re-routing traffic down Montpellier would greatly increase traffic volume on that route and over the pedestrian crossing point to reach Valley Gardens. It would lengthen the through-route in the town and could create a hazard.
  • Lateral Property own a number of retail properties on Parliament Street that are not fully let. Questions should be answered if this develops the centre for Harrogate or if it is too biased for the benefit of one individual developer.

 

Development of Station Parade

John Caddick Developments of Wetherby have proposed the development of Station Parade into a mixed used facility, largely retail but with a modern boutique hotel and the development of the train station itself. The development would be on the existing station and adjacent council car park.

Caddick believe that traffic measures would need to be implemented to make the new retail centre useable and to connect it to the main town shopping area. At the meeting Caddick referred to Station Parade as a “rat run” although this was later challenged during public questions explaining that it was a main town thoroughfare.

Caddick were also questioned where the traffic would be re-routed to and they deferred that to being a County Council problem rather than theirs. Although ultimately responsibility would for highways be with the County Council, the developer should of made some consideration, if only to support their proposals.

Overall at the meeting the development of that area was seen as positive although changes to the traffic control gained little support. There was some discussion that the development could work but with reduced traffic changes.

Pros

  • Develops and an underdeveloped and unattractive area of town.
  • Provides additional retail space.

Cons

  • Re-routing traffic away from Station Parade is only going to cause problems elsewhere and has not been thought through.

 

Re-letting of Coptall Bridge

Rob Thompson of the Commercial Estates Group explained that the currently vacant Habitat 13,000 unit would be re-let as it is. The company also operate Central House in Harrogate that had recently had a 4million upgrade

Commercial Estates were confident that they have national retailers who are waiting to come to Harrogate.

 

Proposed new Travelodge Hotel

Gregory Property Group have plans to convert the ex-Bowling alley on Tower Street into a Travelodge and facility for national gym chain. There are no plans to have a food outlet given the proximity to the town centre and other food outlets.

The plans received broad support from the meeting. The only concern raised being the additional traffic in the area.

Pros

  • Develops a run down building
  • Additional Hotel facility

Cons

  • Additional traffic to tower street, although mitigated with a pick up/ drop off  lay-bye being put in as part of the development.

Conclusion

All the developers were very upbeat that they can attract retailers to their units and provide larger units for those already in the town wishing to move to larger premises and for new retailers to the town.

Councillor Cooper said:

I was pleased to be able to chair such a stimulating meeting of the Chamber of Trade and Commerce.  There are parts of our town that sorely need work and investment.

But it is clear that the changes needed to bring about that investment and new businesses to our town are never going to please everyone.

This meeting though was a useful step in the discussions needed to ensure that we get retail development which retains the best of what we have now and brings new retailers and new shoppers to Harrogate.

Credit must be given to the Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce for facilitating this meeting and the work that they do, often behind the scenes. They are injecting a lot of momentum into this area as well as others.

Councillor Cooper chaired the meeting in a very positive and fair manner and emphasised that Harrogate needed to work with the developers – compromise was needed on both sides.

The Developers have proposed a diverse range of development options and it is great news for the town that there are developers looking to invest.

Consideration has not been given to the potential of an out of town development. This gives the benefit of keeping some of the traffic away from the centre, but would mainly benefit the larger retailer. With the planning approval for Tesco and the development of B&Q, Harrogate already has an embryonic out of town development.

Further joined-up thinking for the town is needed however. Rather than jumping to a particular developers option, Harrogate needs to identify more clearly what the problems are and what the development strategy is for the town centre. Only then will it be clear how a development proposal will provide benefit and if it would be a good fit for the Town.

 

 


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