Plans have been released by the Thorpe Group for the development of Crescent Gardens in Harrogate.
The building was formally the main office for Harrogate Borough Council, before their move to a new-build on Knapping Mount.
The Thorpe Group are proposing a significant redevelopment of the area, with only the front facade of the existing building being retained. Plans are to develop the building into apartments with some public space of a gallery and restaurant.
The roadway in front of the building will be taken away and will become the frontage of the building, with an underground swimming pool below.
We put a few questions to Adam Thorpe, the man behind it all.
Why is this the right development for the building and Harrogate itself ?
We initially became involved in the scheme when we realised that all the main bidders for the scheme were in fact wishing to develop the building with high number of units, car park at the front, new build to the left hand side and no improvement to the public realm.
Having lived in Harrogate for well over a decade I felt that this key reception space in Harrogate needed some much over due love and attention, a vision to carry it proudly forwards for the next 100 years. Given that we already had a number of clients in Harrogate we discussed the scheme with them and gained their support early on in the process. By creating something special that could combine the parkland, the Gardens, the art gallery, spa and the residences it became clear to us that we could revive the very concept of why people initially travelled from far and wide to Harrogate.
Concern has been expressed about the use of the roadway and gardens, why does that need to be part of the development ?
In our opinion all too often the natural environment is forgotten in development in favour of further parking, road systems, acres of manicured lawn or concrete surfaces. In the case of Crescent Gardens we set about early on to understand the enjoyment of the area back through the ages. With the help of Malcolm Neesam and Mercer Gallery we discovered lots of historic postcards showing what a well loved and used amenity these gardens were to Harrogate.
Our vision which started with removing the cars was starting to take shape in the form of restored bandstand, areas for families and children to enjoy in safety and for events to be enjoyed within the gardens. We see the area as a key reception space but also a link between people walking from Valley Gardens and up into Harrogate through the much cherished Montpellier Quarter.
For the design process we engaged Henry Squire of Squire & Partners along with his lead Architect Alessandro Mangiavacchi who led both 20 Grosvenor Square and Chelsea Barracks in London through successful delivery.
It was with this confidence that we set out to create a vision for a much improved public realm, restored parkland and Gardens that people could enjoy and set the scene for what we see as a key reception space for Harrogate.
None of which would have been possible with the road still running across the middle of this space.
The other advantage that stopping up of the road creates is similar to the National Portrait Gallery in that the vista of the parkland and of the building changes, from being always viewed at an angle to now being sat comfortably within its own parkland setting.
How can people get involved ?
Further to the public consultation we would welcome any ideas, views or suggestions for the gallery and gardens. It’s an incredibly important opportunity for us to create a legacy for this building and its surroundings for the next 100 years.
The next stage in the development will be for the developer to formally submit the plans to Harrogate Borough Council.