English Heritage has been dealing with an application seeking to list the site formerly occupied by North Yorkshire Police on North Park Road.
The site was to be used as central location for Harrogate Borough Council, allowing the redevelopment of their other town centre locations, most notably the Crescent Gardens building as a Boutique Hotel.
Late Friday afternoon (7 Sept 2012), the council was notified that, having taken into account all the representations made, and having considered English Heritage’s recommendation, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has decided to list the whole site not just the buildings as Grade II.
An English Heritage spokesperson said:
Harrogate Police Station, opened in 1931, has been listed at Grade II as it’s a good example of a style of architecture known as Queen Anne Revival, designed by the West Riding County Architect Percy Oats Platts, it is one of the first buildings to be built in this style, prefiguring similar military buildings built in the 1930s.
Listing is not a preservation order, preventing change. Listing is an identification stage where buildings are marked and celebrated as having exceptional architectural or historic special interest, before any planning stage which may decide a building’s future.
Listing does not freeze a building in time, it simply means listed building consent must be applied for in order to make any changes to that building which might affect its special interest.
Listed buildings can be altered, extended and sometimes even demolished within government planning guidance.
The local authority uses listed building consent to make decisions that balance the site’s historic significance against other issues such as its function, condition or viability.
Listing helps us acknowledge and understand our shared history. It marks and celebrates a building’s special architectural and historic interest, and also brings it under the consideration of the planning system so that some thought will be taken about its future.
Harrogate Borough Council Leader, Cllr Anthony Alton, has expressed disappointment at the news:
We had of course considered the architectural and heritage value of the buildings.
We also took independent advice in 2011.
That advice concluded that it was very likely that the buildings would not warrant statutory listing.
The council is now fully reviewing the Secretary of State’s report and the implications for the council’s primary objective of total office relocation to North Park Road.
Councillor Alton added:
The council wishes to reduce its overheads and bring greater efficiencies by moving from its current five administrative buildings in Harrogate to one main council office.
A contingency plan had also been agreed should we not be in a position to achieve total relocation to North Park Road.
This may have included a smaller new build at North Park Road and retaining Springfield House.
As we awaited the outcome of the approach to list North Park Road, we have used the time available to consider further contingency options including investigating the provision of the office accommodation within the Harrogate International Centre site.
The outcome of these further investigations is awaited.
Councillor Don Mackenzie said:
The decision by English Heritage to list as Grade 2 the former police station building is very disappointing indeed, both for Harrogate Borough Council, but also above all for the residents and taxpayers of the borough.
The proposal that the council would purchase the site, demolish the police station building and construct a high-quality office to house all Harrogate-based office staff in one location would have saved large amounts of taxpayers’ money through greater efficiencies. At the same time, disposal of the current five council offices in town would have given a great boost to the local economy, by providing land and buildings for new homes, new businesses and jobs, and adding to the town’s visitor attractions.
I agree that we must protect our built environment and our heritage, and that such considerations need to be borne in mind at all times. Harrogate has a good record in this.
Nevertheless, in my view, and taking the potential economic benefits of the council’s proposals into account, the former police station building, with its many inappropriate extensions and alterations, should not be listed.
The Government is encouraging local authorities to do everything possible to encourage economic activity, especially through its planning powers. English Heritage would do well to remember that.
The building and land remains the property of the North Yorkshire Police. The sale and redevelop of North Park was a factor in their strategy of developing a new main Police base in the town, along with a temporary town centre, counter facility that would have moved back to the North Park location, once it had been redeveloped by the Council.
North Yorkshire Police Authority and North Yorkshire Police statement:
North Yorkshire Police Authority and North Yorkshire Police will continue to liaise with Harrogate Borough Council regarding the future of the old Harrogate police station site on North Park Road.
We are reviewing our position and the implications that the English Heritage listing decision may have on joint plans.