'Harrogate is losing its sparkle': More reader feedback on the state of the town centre

Harrogate town centre
Harrogate town centre

Advertiser readers are continuing to share their views on Harrogate town centre and suggest ideas for the future.

Heather Pullan, of Knaresborough, said tackling the number of empty shops is a priority as it is off-putting for tourists.

Congestion in Harrogate

Congestion in Harrogate

She said: "I think Harrogate Borough Council should allow small businesses just starting off to rent a space in one of the larger stores that is empty. And let the local people sell their wares. Like a sort of Market Hall.

"The empty shops need something in them. It is very off-putting for the tourists to come to a town and see a lot of empty shops, a bad sign.

"Something needs doing as Harrogate is losing it’s sparkle as it used to be such a thriving town."

Jeff Wormald, of Harrogate, said Harrogate needs to create a vibrant entertainment atmosphere to give people a reason to come into the town centre.

He said: "The high street - large stores are doomed. Any plans for the future structure of towns and cities should accept this and allow the towns and cities to reflect that most people buy on the internet.

"Most people buy drinks from supermarkets. By trying to keep the centres as shopping areas, we see quality shop closures replaced by charity and trinket shops, together with empty premises.

"Otley and Ripon in my opinion are classic examples. Lovely buildings, market place etc but not thriving.

"We have too many bars and restaurants which results in numerous closures/refurbishments, re-openings. It’s a merry-go-round and a downward spiral.

"Here's my solution.

"Allow some town retail areas to become domestic homes rather than businesses.

"Have a quality casino... as Monte Carlo.

"Have a planned balance with restaurants, cafe bars, pubs.

"Create a vibrant entertainment atmosphere to give people a reason to come into town.

"Make it safe, make it clean, make it family friendly/attractive."

David Palmer, of Harrogate, hopes the independent businesses continue to play a starring role in the town's success.

He said: "Regarding your 'Special Report' on Thursday, July 25, it is good to see the positive steps being taken to help independent retailers, cafes and restaurants in Harrogate and we should all applaud the initiative of William Woods, Christopher Butterworth, Robert and Ben Ogden for establishing the group known as Independent Harrogate, a new force dedicated to supporting local independent businesses and restoring the town’s status as a pre-eminent destination for shopping and enjoyment.

"It’s not going to be an easy task and there’s a lot to be done but the early signs are encouraging.

"Harrogate is a beautiful town and the independents have always played a starring role in its success. Long may it continue."

John Rowe, of Harrogate, put forward three suggestions to improve the town's transport network.

He said: "The council’s surveys have shown that 42 per cent of people making journeys at busy times are local people making short trips. That is the largest and easiest group to focus on as so many options exist within Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) control.

"Measures to help commuters (as many of the proposed options are) are very welcome too but surely a lower priority as the target group is so much smaller and the costs /difficulty is higher.

"Here are my suggestions:

"1) Affordable bus fares and better service at peak times, plus free off peak fares within Harrogate.

"Other places implementing free buses have found it to be a trivial cost per household overall with huge benefit to a lot of people. We can’t expect people to use buses if the service is poor and the cost so high compared to the car.

"2) Work with schools to identify priority school run routes and trial schemes that close roads along these routes within a five minute walk of school at school times to deter cars and push for walking and cycling on these routes. There are case studies in this country how this has been very effective.

"3) Target streets where sixth formers park cars (e.g. Arthurs Avenue) and restrict parking to residents only to encourage bus/walking/cycling. All of these can be trialled without heavy investment to test the results.

"The primary objective needs to be reduction of motor transport as anything else is just a short term gain - any road improvements will ultimately just draw in more traffic and we will be back where we started or worse as new housing adds to the load. That isn’t to say that the improvements are bad ideas, just that they are aimed at solving a symptom rather than the cause - too many people using cars. Making things easier for car drivers will hardly encourage use of the alternatives.

"Most of the new developments are around the edge of town so distances to town are significant. If the new residents don’t have good quality, convenient, affordable sustainable travel options, then the default transport choice for most of them will be the car. It needs to be part of the design of all these developments rather than an after-thought."