A possible new retail park in Harrogate has run into trouble with one of the town’s most distinguished voluntary groups.
Harrogate Civic Society is opposing a planning application for a new retail park at the gasworks site at New Park, previously eyed up by supermarket giant Tesco, because it says support should be given to town centre shops.
Henry Pankhurst, chairman of Harrogate Civic Society, said the proposed site at the former North East Gas Offices on Skipton Road was simply in the wrong location.
He said: “We strongly object to the retail park, especially because of the current state and trends of retailing in Harrogate town centre.
“As shopping habits change rapidly to on-line shopping, the town centre needs support in order to maintain vitality and viability.
“A retail park would clearly be in competition with existing shops in the town centre.”
Formed 40 years ago to enhance the character and amenities of the town while protecting and preserving all the best of the past, Harrogate Civic Society is not opposing the design or quality of the planning application, which has been submitted by CPG Development Projects Ltd.
But it says the new development, to be called Harrogate Spa Retail Park, flies in the face of Harrogate Borough Council’s own polices designed to support the retail sector in the town centre.
Henry Pankhurst said: “Common policy threads run through Harrogate Borough Council’s Saved Policies of the Local Plan 1991-2006, the Core Strategy February 2009 and the Local Plan Publication Draft 2018.
“These include protection of Harrogate town centre from retail development outside of the centres that would damage vitality and viability.”
But Martin Ridgway, Group Managing Director of applicants Consolidated Property Group, said the new retail park would present no competition for the town centre.
He said “The application is predominantly for bulky goods retail which will have a minimal impact on and not compete with the town centre and this will be covered by a planning condition.”
If approved, a parade of up to nine shops would be built at the approved Tesco site on Skipton Road, creating 130 full-time and part-time jobs.
But Harrogate Civic Society is concerned about the scale of the new development.
Henry Pankhurst said: “An application for a DIY store was refused in 1993 because it was said to be an over-development detrimental to residents at 3,251sq m.
"The current application for a retail park has a net retail area of 12,988sq m plus the café at 167sq m.”
More news you may be interested in...