Planning permission refused for Carluccios restaurant

12 June 2013

Worcester_food shopA major restaurant chain  have had planning permission refused for the development of the former Optical Express site on Station Square in Harrogate.

Permission was requested for change of use from retail (Use Class A1 – Shops) to restaurant and delicatessen (Use Class A3 – Restaurants & Cafes) with the erection of new shopfront with canopies, rear flue, ductwork and plant.

The application was made by the restaurant chain Carluccio’s who operate around 75 restaurants throughout the country.


A spokesperson for Harrogate Borough Council said:

The application was determined yesterday under delegated powers, in consultation with the Chair of Planning, for the following reason;

The site lies on a principal shopping street within the Conservation Area and main shopping area. In the opinion of the Local Planning Authority the loss of most of this retail establishment and its replacement by an A3 use would result in a dilution of the retail uses in a shopping area, which would detract from the existing shopping nature of the town and would not lead to an improvement in the vitality and viability of the shopping centre nor the character of the Conservation Area.

The proposal would be contrary to Saved Policies S5 and HD3 of the Harrogate District Local Plan and Policy EQ2 of the Harrogate District Core Strategy Development Plan Document.


Simon Kossoff is the CEO of Carluccio's
Simon Kossoff is the CEO of Carluccio’s


Simon Kossoff is the CEO of Carluccio’s and is disappointed with this decision.

Speaking to Harrogate-News, Simon Kossoff said:

We requested planning permission for change of use from A1 to A3 to allow us to operate a mixed use facility, part restaurant and part high quality deli with breads cooked on the premises.

We estimated that the development would create 35 jobs, many more than a retail outlet. Harrogate Council refused to believe that we would create that number of jobs, insisting that it would more likely be 10.

The planning policy is out of date and it can be overruled if the developer can prove they will contribute to the vibrancy and vitality of the area – this is something we worked very hard to do.

We took experience from running our Chester restaurant, as we felt it was most similar to Harrogate. Our development would create significant more footfall given that we would be open from longer than most shops and the nature of being a restaurant.

We also consulted with the public and with 150 people surveyed outside the development, 100% agreed that it was a great development.

Harrogate Borough Council also failed to take into consideration that the development will combine a restaurant and retail food outlet.

The restaurant would add more to that area, including the retailers.

We asked the planners that the decision wasn’t made under delegated powers and asked it be put before a planning committee. We will now appeal against the decision at cost to both Carluccio’s and the Council.


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  1. Harrogate has far too many eateries as it is, what this town needs is more high street retail shops. I very often hear residents saying they do their shopping in Leeds or York as they can’t find what they’re looking for in Harrogate. There are a lot of clothing shops in the town which are too expensive for a lot of people.

  2. I cannot understand the justification for the refusal of planning permission for this prestigious company. This unit, though located on one of the prime retail streets of Harrogate, is at the far end of the street and has always been a difficult unit to let. To turn down an application from one of the country’s premier restaurant chains appears ludicrous. Most towns in a similar situation to Harrogate would be “biting their hand off” as opposed to “biting the hand that feeds them”. Using the same logic as you have espoused, why was permission granted to Filmore and Union for a unit that was previously solely retail (i.e. Lemon Tree) and which is between two food outlets? Don’t let this opportunity go to waste otherwise you will have yet another prominent void which will affect what you call the “vitality and vibrancy of Harrogate” in a negative way.

  3. It’s all very well ‘wanting’ a retail establishment to come to Harrogate to take over the old spectacle shop that Carluccio’s wanted to use – BUT – there is a world of difference between wishing for something and actually making it happen.
    Harrogate isn’t Leeds or York, and it’s time to start trading on what we are and what we do, and not what someone from the council would “like” us to be.
    Carluccio’s would bring jobs and reclaim an empty storefront in a prominent position in the town.
    If it is a question of numbers (as the decision suggests), why not reclassify the failed Victus restaurant back to retail – then the numbers would be the same, and the council would look like it had made a flexible, pragmatic and intelligent decision.
    As it is, it just makes us look rather silly and old fashioned – companies are running away from bricks and mortar shops in favour of the internet, so I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for someone to come and take up this (or any of the many other) empty stores in the town.
    Also – this means – once again – that the long suffering rate payers of Harrogate will be picking up the tab for the lost income from business rates that Carluccio’s would have paid.
    It’s a bad decision from any number of viewpoints, and shows that Harrogate Council is so far behind the curve as to be almost invisible.
    Are they going to refuse Jamie Oliver as well – after all, Multiyork used to be a furniture shop, and if we follow the logic behind this refusal, they cannot allow Jamie’s project to go ahead can they?

  4. Wrong decision by Harrogate council again. Footfall is everything. People passing Carluccio’s also go into neighbouring shops. If it’s after shop hours, the shops wouldn’t be open anyway. Harrogate thrives by having good independent shops as well as high-reputation shops. Having a large amount of eateries is a good thing; it means that people come from far and wide visit Harrogate knowing they have a good choice of places to go. It’s certainly one of the great things about our town that there is a choice.

    I’d love to know who on the council actually has an idea of how to run our town to maximise its economy.

  5. Harrogate Council need a reality check. Consumer demands have shifted from the high street to the internet. If their desire is to attract an independent to this site it will be vacant and decaying for a very long time. The rent on this unit is £100,000 pa, the business rates are just under £45,400 pa. What independent could possibly take on these costs, and that’s without other running and staffing costs

    Both residents and visitors want quality brands. How many Harrogate residents go to Leeds in order to go to Carluccio’s? Companies looking at booking the conference centre will look at what we have to offer delegates -quality brands like Carluccio’s tick that box. I’ve been a Carluccio’s advocate for many years. They offer an environment where you can shop, pop in for a coffee, meet friends, have informal business meetings or sit down to lunch or dinner.

    Come on Harrogate, wake up and smell the (Italian) coffee!

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