Harrogate has all the ingredients to create new jobs in coming years but the district needs to make drastic changes to make sure the job market keeps up with population growth, an economist has warned.
More than 4000 new jobs were created in Harrogate over a 10 year period to 2011 meaning the area’s economy grew at almost double the national average, economist Darren Wisher told Harrogate’s Chamber of Trade. But with the population expected to grow over the next 20 years the Harrogate district needs to provide more job opportunities.
Between 2001 and 2011 the district saw above average job growth in areas including financial services, research and development and business services – but new investment should be encouraged to create enough jobs to keep up with predicted population growth, he told the meeting.
The district’s population is predicted to grow by 650 net new residents per year for the next 20 years, and the town also needs to claw back some of the 6000 professional workers the 2001 census said leave Harrogate to work everyday. And with people expected to work longer before retirement the district needs new jobs to keep up with the higher number of people working.
Property specialist Rupert Visick added: “In 20 years Harrogate will get 13,000 new residents, but where will they work? This dormitory status is not clever or good for Harrogate.”
While Harrogate has “lots of ticks in boxes” for factors that attract new businesses, including a good supply of skilled labour and high quality of life, the town is missing a plentiful supply of new employment sites, Mr Wisher added.
Brian Dunsby, Chairman of the Harrogate Chamber, said the group supports Mr Wisher’s claims about employment in the district. He said: “The presentation demonstrates there is a latent need for employment land the council’s present allocation do not meet.
“We need more land for existing businesses to grow and for inward investment. We need a new business park like Hornbeam Park or St James’ Park.”
The 150 chamber members at the meeting unanimously supported calls for more employment land in Harrogate, and gave overwhelming support for more housing, he added.
“We support housing and employment development to the east of Knaresborough, and oppose development west of Harrogate,” Mr Dunsby said.
Mr Wisher, a consultant with Regeneris Consulting, was speaking at a Harrogate Chamber of Trade meeting about the need for new houses and jobs in the area on Monday, January 14. He spoke alongside property specialist Rupert Visick and planning consultant Jay Everett – all working for promoters of a proposed business park site beside the A1(M) at Flaxby.