Demolition plans finally submitted for burned-out McColl’s store on Starbeck High Street
Long-awaited plans for the demolition of a burned-out building widely considered to be one of Harrogate's biggest eyesores have finally been submitted.
The former McColl’s convenience store on Starbeck High Street has stood roofless since a fire tore through it in July 2018 and residents have since been left frustrated with a lack of action to bring the derelict building back into use.
But owners Bates and Hemingborough have now finally submitted a planning application to Harrogate Borough Council to demolish the store in what is hoped will be a big step in the site's revival.
Liberal Democrat councillor Philip Broadbank, who represents the Starbeck ward, has long-campaigned for action on the building which he described as "dilapidated" and a "ramshackle".
Welcoming the latest progress, he said: "I am pleased to see the application has gone in, although I wish this had been done a bit quicker.
"There have been various reasons why it hasn't, but the situation has been frustrating for many.
"The reaction to the latest plans so far has been positive. People are just keen to see the building removed and something of a good quality put in its place."
In the aftermath of the fire in 2018, worried residents complained they were in danger from the potential risk of falling debris as they walked past the building.
In response, the authorities closed off a section of the footpath as well as the nearby pelican crossing for nearly six months.
Now that the demolition application has been submitted, it could be followed by more detailed plans to build retail units and first floor flats at the site.
These early stage proposals have already been discussed with the council, although councillor Broadbank said there were some concerns raised by a conservation officer who has asked whether the building next to St Andrew's Church could be refurbished.
Councillor Broadbank, who sits on both Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council, said he believes the site is "beyond renovation" and should be torn down.
He said: "The building is right on the High Street and in a prominent position.
"I suggested to the owners that they put the full application in first, but they wanted to sort the demolition and then put their plans on show for people to see.
"Now that the demolition plans are in, we need to get them approved, get the actual plans on show and see what people think.
"I have seen other buildings similar to this take eight or nine years to be brought back into use. I don't want this to happen here - this has taken long enough now."
Councillor Broadbank added: "If the new building is of a reasonable quality it will help regenerate the High Street which is in need of some tender loving care.
"It could be something like this that gets Starbeck moving again."
A decision on the demolition plans is expected from Harrogate Borough Council in the New Year.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter