Dear Reader: 'Rude' questions on Crescent Gardens + Harrogate is rock n roll

Members of the public at Rudding Park Hotel attending the public consultation over the Crescent Gardens plans.
Members of the public at Rudding Park Hotel attending the public consultation over the Crescent Gardens plans.

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

I suppose the public consultation for a project as lavish as Harrogate’s £75 million redevelopment of Crescent Gardens was never going to be held in a scout hut.

So it was we gathered in the opulence of Rudding Park Hotel last week to see what all the fuss was about.

Some people had been complaining in advance that the ambitious plans to transform the Harrogate Borough Council headquarters into a suite of luxury apartments fit for the Great Gatsby might be a bit of a folly.

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But Harrogate’s sense of good manners won the day on what turned out to be a highly civilised occasion.

I didn’t detect as much as heavy tutting when the project team unveiled their attractive visualisations in an atmosphere akin to a relaxed drinks party.

But in quiet corners of the room there was a hint of discontent and, afterwards, some members of the public made unflattering remarks to me about the developer’s plans - off the record.

Earlier I’d had a good chat with the man behind the most controversial building project in Harrogate for a long time.

To his credit, developer Adam Thorpe and his experienced team did actually turn up in person at Rudding Park to turn on the charm and answer questions on a one-to-one basis.

Being me, I let him know what the public mood was in as polite and friendly fashion as I could muster.

“Has anyone asked you any rude questions to your face?” I asked him out of interest.

“No,” he replied, “only you Graham.”

I first had a bit of a rant in public that Harrogate (and surrounding areas) was actually a bit of a rock n roll stronghold at a music event in 1996 in West Yorkshire Playhouse organised by BBC Radio One.

Leeds wasn’t impressed.

I’m not sure a Harrogate audience would have been any different either.

But, as a feature on the top 50 musicians from the Harrogate district to achieve some sort of success at a national or, even, international level published three or four years ago in this newspaper shows, my feelings on the subject may not be completely misplaced.

I’d also like to point to two brilliant young acts from our patch currently living the dream.

Both are signed to proper record labels.

Both are signed to proper record labels.

Both are reviewed by the national media.

Both play venues a world away from local pubs.

One, singer-songwriter Billie Marten from Ripon, is about to tour America with Snow Patrol.

The other, metal band Blood Youth, are about to hit the road across Europe and the UK.

The latter first came into the public eye when their lead singer Kaya was in teenage rock group Book of Job.

I remember well the time in 2009 I voted for this outfit from St John Fisher’s School in my role as a member of the AMP Awards’s judging panel.

As glittering as the stage was that night at Harrogate’s Royal Hall, it’s unlikely the youngster could have known then how far he was going to travel.