Harrogate Council says 'boost for town's economy' will come from Crescent Gardens sale

The sale of Crescent Gardens to a new buyer in a £4 million deal has been hailed as a “vibrant” boost for the town’s economy by Harrogate Borough Council.
Crescent Gardens in Harrogate - There are new plans to regenerate the historic former council offices.Crescent Gardens in Harrogate - There are new plans to regenerate the historic former council offices.
Crescent Gardens in Harrogate - There are new plans to regenerate the historic former council offices.

The unconditional sale to Impala Estates, a family-owned property investment business, brings to an end months of uncertainty for the former council headquarters after the previous development deal collapsed last year.

Cabinet member Coun Graham Swift said he was delighted at the success of the marketing campaign and by the new buyer’s plans to regenerate the historic site into a multi-let office space.

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The council’s deputy leader said: “The proposed plans will ensure that this high quality local asset is regenerated to deliver a building that provides much-needed office space in the town centre and provide community benefits that keeps Crescent Gardens as a vibrant addition to Harrogate town centre.”

The sale confirmed on Monday will include the iconic building, itself, which housed the council’s main offices and the Mayor’s parlour for nearly a century until two years ago, and the parking bays on the road directly opposite.

As to how the re-marketing of Crescent Gardens was handled after the troubled situation with previous developer Adam Thorpe's company, over the site's future, the council said all bids received were carefully considered and assessed against specific criteria including deliverability, preservation of a local asset, as well as the growing demand for office space in the town.

James Hartley of Impala Estates, whose headquarters are located in Harrogate, said the aim was to restore the now empty building to its former glory.

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He said: “Plans are in place to bring the building back to its former glory and refurbish these offices to a modern standard for multiple occupancy.

“We aim to create office space on flexible lease terms, with meeting rooms, kitchens, showers and gym facilities. The space will range from fully serviced shared workspace for small businesses and start-ups, to larger offices available on an exclusive use basis.”

Voices criticial of previous would-be buyer Adam Thorpe’s failed £75m bid to transform the 19th century building into luxury apartments have given this week’s announcement a cautious welcome.

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Susan Amaku and Stuart Holland, vice-chairs of Harrogate Civic Society, said: “We are pleased that a sale has finally been completed for the former municipal offices.

“We look forward to an ongoing dialogue with Impala Estates as they develop their proposals for the building and hope consideration will be given to the incorporation of some of our ideas to enable community use and public access to key parts of the building.”

But the volunteer guardians are seeking reassurances that two controversial aspects of failed plans outlined by flamboyant developer Adam Thorpe before the council terminated his contract last year will not feature this time:

The semi-demolition of Crescent Gardens interiors.

The ‘privatisation’ of the road outside it removing access to motorists in general.

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Impala Estates are expected to submit a planning application in the early part of this year, though no timescales have yet been set for the refurbishment.