Harrogate Borough Council has appointed property advisor, Cushman & Wakefield to develop a business case and masterplan to identify a preferred option for the future of the Harrogate Convention Centre site.
The site was previously called the Harrogate International Centre (HIC) and has made losses each year. HBC have always defended the loses on the basis of an overall gain to the town.
The consultants say that recent changes to the conference/exhibition market and increased competition from elsewhere have led to Harrogate Borough Council, which owns the site, to take steps to ensure it remains a nationally competitive and attractive venue.
It is anticipated that the site’s reconfiguration, which currently provides 17,000 sqm of conference and exhibition space, could present a significant opportunity to unlock new and transformational development opportunities for this key town centre site.
The council has already sought specialist advice on the market opportunities for the Convention Centre itself and this will inform the business case for investment in the wider site.
Stephen Miles, Partner of Cushman & Wakefield’s Development & Planning team, said:
This is an important instruction that will identify a way of facilitating improvements to the Convention Centre whilst simultaneously unlocking new development opportunities that will benefit the town centre economy.
Ben Pretty, Associate at Cushman & Wakefield, who is project managing the commission, added:
Harrogate Convention Centre is a well-established facility and is located on a prime site in the town centre which is likely to also have strong market appeal from other occupiers. We are excited to be advising on this potentially transformational scheme for the City Region.
Cushman & Wakefield is leading a wider team comprising Arup, IPW, Gardiner & Theobald, Group Ginger and DWF.
Simon Kent, director of Harrogate Convention Centre, said:
The business case is the first step in what is potentially a very exciting opportunity for the Convention Centre. It’s good to see this initial stage of the project in the hands of a company which has huge amounts of experience in our sector.
It’s going to be an interesting time working with Cushman & Wakefield and I’m looking forward to seeing the company’s ideas for further integrating the Convention Centre into Harrogate’s Town Centre and strengthening our position within the events industry.