The results of a public consultation into Harrogate Borough Council’s future office accommodation have been announced, with over 57% of respondents supporting the council’s preferred option to relocate to a new purpose-built headquarters at Knapping Mount.
The consultation considered two options – the council’s preferred option of relocating to a new purpose-built headquarters at Knapping Mount, or alternatively, consolidating down to three buildings: Crescent Gardens, Springfield House and Scottsdale House.
The consultation, which opened on 26 May 2014 and ran for ten weeks with the findings to be presented to Cabinet on Wednesday 20 August 2014.
The 822 responses to the public consultation, including those objections to the preferred option, will be considered before a decision is made on the council’s future office accommodation.
The consultation was criticized by local Ukip and Libdem groups. They felt that the options being considered were too limited and there was not sufficient opportunity for the public to comment. The opportunity to comment was extended however with further drop-in sessions.
In July, the Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce debated the office move and reached a consensus with all those voting, voting for a delay in the decision. A big factor in their debate was the ongoing and wider debate on the creation of one or more unitary authorities across North Yorkshire.
During the public consultation, a response was submitted proposing that new purpose-built offices could be built at a potential development site in Hornbeam Park which had not been available before. At the meeting on 20 August 2014, Cabinet will consider whether to give authority to instruct external property consultants to analyse this proposal so that it can be balanced against the other two options which have been considered.
Councillor Richard Cooper, Leader of Harrogate Borough Council said: I would like to thank everyone who responded to this consultation. It has been extremely important to give local residents, businesses, council employees, councillors, voluntary organisations and local interest groups, the opportunity to have their say on these proposals as their views will inform the council’s decision on how to proceed.
The majority of respondents have supported the option to develop purpose-built offices at the Knapping Mount site. This move would offer many benefits such as improving customer service by dealing with all customer queries from one location, offering long term financial savings through reduced running costs and the co-location of staff and services, and improving efficiency.
We want to progress with the best possible option and create office accommodation which will benefit both council employees and Harrogate district residents. As a consequence, we will be carefully considering whether the new proposal of a potential development site in Hornbeam Park should be explored further.
Should the decision be made to assess the viability of this new option, the Extraordinary Meeting of the Council, which is due to be held on Wednesday 27 August to consider the office consultation results, will be postponed.