Harrogate Stray

Drop in events for Harrogate Stray Act public consultation


Harrogate Borough Council will be holding two drop in events this week as part of the public consultation on whether the council should seek to amend the Harrogate Stray Act 1985 to increase the opportunity to hold more and different types of events on the Stray.

First Floor of the Victoria Shopping Centre in Harrogate

  • Thursday 22 December between 11am-7.00pm
  • Friday 23 December between 11am-2pm

The public will have the opportunity to view consultation materials, talk to officers who will be able to answer questions, and give feedback.

The consultation has been launched in light of Harrogate’s growing reputation as a location for quality events and due to potential limitations on the town’s ability to host major events in the future.

The use of the Stray, which is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, is regulated by the Harrogate Stray Act 1985, a private Act of Parliament.  This gives Harrogate Borough Council powers to manage and protect the land to ensure residents and visitors have free access to enjoy it for general recreation.

Currently, larger events (greater than 3.5 hectares in size) such as the Tour de France and Tour de Yorkshire are prohibited from being held on the Stray due to the restrictions of the Stray Act. In these instances, the council has to apply to Parliament for a temporary relaxation of some of the rules. However, Government has made it clear that this time-consuming process cannot be repeated indefinitely.  If Harrogate wishes to hold large events in the future, then the Stray Act will need to be amended to include a mechanism to allow this – subject to safeguards.

Under the Stray Act, only 3.5 hectares (the size of three international rugby pitches) can be enclosed by fencing or tents or marquees at any time, and the total time any part of the Stray can be enclosed must not exceed 35 days in any one year. This includes the time taken to set up and dismantle events.

Regular events take up most of the 35 days allocation, including the Bonfire, the Christmas Market, the Spring and Autumn funfairs, the Race for Life and big screens for the Harrogate International Festival, meaning that other events often can’t be accommodated.

The restriction on the type of events that can take place means that only circuses, pleasure fairs, shows or other public entertainments, displays and events for the raising of funds for charitable purposes are currently permitted.

The public are encouraged to have their say on whether the council should seek to relax some of the restrictions on the use of the land so that more events, of more variety, can be held throughout the year.


Councillor Michael Harrison, Deputy Leader of Harrogate Borough Council said: The purpose of this consultation is to gauge public opinion on whether they would like to see a modest increase in the number and type of events held annually on the Stray, but with suitable safeguards in place to protect it in the future.

The Stray was gifted to the people of Harrogate by the Crown as open space to enjoy, and we have no intention of changing this. The future use of this land would be subject to the agreement of the Duchy of Lancaster.

The drop in event at the Christmas Market proved to be a big success, however it did become apparent that there were some misconceptions about the intention of the consultation. It is important that residents have the chance to fully consider the principle of amending the Stray Act and the drop in events at the Victoria Shopping Centre will provide a further opportunity for officers to answer any questions that residents may have.

We are not looking to drastically change the Stray Act, we are simply considering whether it should be modernised.  Perhaps, the Act could be amended to allow more types of community events, or to ensure that large events like the Tour de France could continue to be held in Harrogate in the future. Whatever your view, we would like to hear from you.


From Monday 9 January until Monday 6 February 2017 an exhibition of the public consultation materials will be held in the foyer at St Peter’s Church on Cambridge Street in Harrogate.

The public consultation is  available to complete at https://www.harrogate.gov.uk/strayact. Copies of the consultation are also available from the council’s Crescent Gardens offices in Harrogate. Responses need to be received by Monday 6 February 2017.

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