Council admit a 'mixed reaction' to £50,000 town centre masterplan

Harrogate Town Masterplan (s)
Harrogate Town Masterplan (s)

Harrogate Borough Council has admitted it has received ‘mixed responses’ from residents and businesses on the consultation for their Town Centre Strategy and Masterplan.

The council held a six-week public consultation between September and October 2015 after a draft report was published outlining plans to redevelop the town centre.

More than 300 comments have been logged on the council’s website by residents and businesses addressing the proposals, which include potentially pedestrianising James Street.

However, many residents have taken the opportunity to criticise the plans including the latest comment which states the ‘majority’ of James Street’s retailers ‘oppose pedestrianisation.’

Coun Rebecca Burnett, cabinet member for Planning and Sustainable Transport, assured residents that the masterplan was designed to enhance the success of the ‘already fantastic’ town centre.

She said: “We were quite pleased by the level of responses but I would say on the whole it’s been a mixed reaction.

“People seem to be happy that we are doing this, they want to see improvements to the town centre but on the individual schemes some of the comments have been mixed.

“The ideas won’t please everybody. But, however much our town centre is fantastic, we need to improve it and we need to do that by looking at taking a few of these schemes forward.”

Development consultancy, Peter Brett Associates, were appointed to prepare the masterplan which also suggested creating public space for outdoor dining.

A Freedom of Information Request revealed Harrogate Borough Council paid more than £56,000 for their work but Coun Burnett stressed this was ‘money well spent’.

She said: “The consultants have prepared a comprehensive baseline report, a future opinions paper as well as a stakeholder event to coincide with the consultation.

“We are still analysing the comments from the consultation and are making some changes informed by those comments, which then have to approved by full cabinet.

“The working group intends to bring this back to me in the next couple of months and we hope to start some of the schemes this year and take them forward over the next ten years.”