The properties – 78, 80, 82 and 82a High Street – have been empty for several years and their run-down state means they have become a ugly blot in the middle of the town, dragging down the town’s life and energy.
Three are former retail units with office or residential accommodation above and the fourth is a residential unit.
All four are in Knaresborough’s conservation area and three have grade two listed status.
Number 82 has been vacant since March 2011 when the former lease expired. Number 80 hasn’t been used since 2013 and number 78 has stood unoccupied for almost three years.
The borough council has successfully negotiated the purchase of the buildings from their London based owners and will completely refurbish them.
The works will create valuable retail space on the ground floors and flats above. The retail space will be available for rent, but the flats will most likely be sold on the open market when the redevelopment is finished.
As well as transforming the look of Knaresborough High Street, the council’s investment will provide high-quality employment space to support the creation of new jobs.
The flats will also provide much needed new homes in the town.
It’s hoped contractors will be on site in spring 2020. Listed building consent and planning permission will be required before works can begin.
Councillor Graham Swift, cabinet member for economic development, said:
Our investment will significantly enhance Knaresborough High Street and bring back to life buildings that can play an active role in restoring the vibrancy of this charming market town.
It will also create additional retail space, jobs and much needed residential accommodation in an area that has been blighted by empty properties.
Councillor Ed Darling, the local councillor and parish councillor, highlighted the issue of empty properties in Knaresborough and I made a commitment to the town council that we would investigate and consider compulsory purchase to bring these buildings to life.
The owners of these buildings weren’t interested in doing anything with them saying it didn’t make financial sense, leaving them empty for long periods of time. We think it does make sense, so I am delighted we’ve been able to successfully negotiate the purchase of the buildings and have a robust investment plan that will enable us to give Knaresborough town centre a significant boost.
I hope our scheme will encourage other property owners in Knaresborough to consider investing in their own buildings for the benefit of everyone.