There's been criticism of the venue and even what the event is meant to achieve but, for the first time, Harrogate residents will get a 'public consultation' over Crescent Gardens
Some doubted the day would ever come but Harrogate residents are finally to get some input this week into the £75 million plans to redevelop one of the town’s most important civic assets.
After early setbacks and delays which invited some criticism, Adam Thorpe, the Harrogate developer behind the Crescent Gardens project, is inviting the public this Thursday, February 14, to talk to directors and professional representatives of the developer’s company, ATP Crescent Gardens.
The public consultation is being held in the drawing room of Harrogate’s most luxurious hotel at Rudding Park and the development itself boasts “world class standards.”
Billed as offering “a curated lifestyle within luxury private residences”, the phrase does not do justice to the scope and complexity of the plans which Mr Thorpe expects to submit to Harrogate Borough Council this April.
As well as converting the former Harrogate Borough Council headquarters into ten to 14 apartments at a price of £2.5m to £10m each, Mr Thorpe’s vision for the building and surrounding public space also includes a wellness spa, underground fitness studios, restaurant, art gallery, screening room and a juice bar.
Inspired partly by Harrogate’s own spa heritage, Mr Thorpe’s belief in the project and the progress he is trying to make appears absolute.
What the developer thinks
Adam Thorpe said: “ We set out to restore Harrogate’s finest reception square and civic building, Crescent Gardens in 2016.
“Since then, our professional team have done a huge amount of work to bring our vision to the scheme and we are due to present via public consultation next week.
“Our professional team, led by Henry Squire of Squire & Partners, have been creating a design that marries the requirements of a parkland setting with its public enjoyment alongside private residences.
“This public consultation is the last milestone and not only offers the public a vital opportunity to have their say as to how the redefined public open space works, but also for our clients to understand how their residences work within the overall scheme.”
As the public will see if they visit Rudding Park Hotel for next week’s public consultation, the Crescent Gardens development is not short on ambition.
Mr Thorpe said: “A huge amount of time has been taken to carefully design the individual residences in a way that combines the historic nature of the area along with desires of our clients, such as individual lifts from their car houses and how these are designed.
“This scheme isn’t just the finest in the region, it’s a one of its kind outside London.
“The parkland, the building, the history of use within this location, all blend to provide a unique offering which we must respect and create something that is exemplary.
“The spa area has been designed to create a really special space, taking inspiration from various wellness destinations in Palm Beach - America, Mallorca and Ibiza as well as some closer to home in London such as the Spa at The Lanesborough and Bvlgari Hotel.”
Harrogate Civic Society, for one, is on record as opposing the £75 million development, saying in its opinion it is simply unworkable for a range of practical reasons.
But the spectacular project continues to hit those milestones idenitifed by Harrogate Borough Council if it is to come to fruition.
Mr Thorpe says he wants to begin building not for the present but for the future.
He said: “The opportunity is here for us to create a legacy of something that is sustainable, sympathetic and enhances this important area of Harrogate, providing its legacy for the next 100 years.”
Crescent Gardens: What's happened so far
Harrogate Borough Council first announced the Crescent Gardens sale in 2014 to help facilitate its move to a new multi-million pound purpose-built Harrogate Civic Centre.
After early hopes of it turning into a hotel failed to materialise, the council revealed in March 2017 its preferred bid as Harrogate property developer Mr Thorpe.
But the project was soon hit by delays.
Mr Thorpe blamed these on the complexity of the project at the town’s historic Crescent Gardens on a site which covers 60,000 sq ft development, 35,000 sq ft of it subterranean.
At the time that his bid was first accepted by the council in March 2017, the developer said he hoped to be applying for planning permission “within the next few weeks” and that he expected to begin actual work in summer 2017 ready for completion in 2020.
No work has started yet and the clock is ticking for Mr Thorpe and his architects Squire & Partner to submit a planning application to the council by early May in time to avoid breaching its contract with Harrogate Borough Council.
But progress seems to have been swifter in recent months.
After approving a 12-month lease in November for the lower rooms of Crescent Gardens to enable Mr Thorpe’s property development firm, ATP (Crescent Gardens) Ltd to work on the project and taken up a lease on the land outside Crescent Gardens, too, Mr Thorpe is now in discussions with the local authorities to get permission to stop traffic from using the road in front of the former civic asset.
Crescent Gardens: What the public consultation involves
The public consultation for Harrogate developer Adam Thorpe’s £70 million plans to redevelop the former headquarters of Harrogate Borough Council will take place at Rudding Park, Harrogate on Thursday, February 14.
To be held in the hotel’s Drawing Room from 2pm to 7pm, directors and professional representatives of the developer’s company, ATP Crescent Gardens will be present.
The aim is to hold the long-awaited event in a relaxed environment where people can attend in their own time, view information boards freely and address questions face-to-face to dedicated members of the ATP Crescent Gardens team.
There will also be a selection of sketches, plans and architects drawings of the planned luxury development.
Crescent Gardens: How to submit questions
The ATP Crescent Gardens team are also inviting questions from the public to be submitted post the event, via its website and a dedicated email address.
The website is www.crescentgardens.co.uk/consultation while the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org