Harrogate town centre: Advertiser readers have their say

Harrogate town centre
Harrogate town centre

The ongoing debate about the state of Harrogate town centre continues to be a hot topic for Advertiser readers, with many getting in touch to have their say.

In this week's readers' views in the Advertiser, many people have shared their constructive criticism and also outlined their vision of how the town can thrive again.

Eleanor Connor, of Harrogate, said free parking is a major factor for the prosperity of the town.

She said: "As a resident I walk into town on a Saturday and I intentionally avoid Cambridge Street and Oxford Street. I head for lunch, going across the Stray, down West Park, and then either down Parliament Street or down Montpellier. All of these streets have cars on them. These are without doubt the nicest streets. Oh and of course James Street, which is also still a road.

"Shopping streets with traffic eradicate busking, people waving clipboards, they stop the likelihood of tents and groups of unsavoury characters gathering. The traffic also creates business as residents and visitors are reminded what the town has to offer when driving through the centre.

"This brings me on to free parking, which I think is a major factor for the prosperity of the town. Other than walking in for lunch on a Saturday, the only other reasons I go into town are generally because I need or want to look for something specific."

She added: "If my reason to head into Harrogate town centre is for one thing or to look for one thing, the lack of extremely convenient free parking is a huge factor and the pedestrianised streets are not even seen.

"If it was down to me, I would turn both Cambridge Street and Oxford Street into one-way roads with on-street parking like James Street."

Mike Fisher, of Harrogate, said the thought of less car parking will deter people from the town centre.

He said: "While I agree Harrogate is a great place to live, I have lived here for 43 years, you cannot dismiss the decline, especially the town centre.

"Empty shops and general bad behaviour in various areas and a feeling of not being safe. With all due respect, the leaders of our town need to wake up!

"I disagree with more precincts - have we forgotten the elderly and young families? The thought of less car parking will surely deter people from the centre.

"The crime within the town has increased in many areas: drugs, knife crime and anti-social behaviour."

Mark Fuller, of Harrogate, has set up an online survey for people to put forward their views on the town centre, with the aim of coming up with an action plan.

He said: "Harrogate is still a fantastic place. But the undeniable fact remains that it is not the crowning jewel of Yorkshire that it was only a few years ago.

"I’ve no regrets in being vocal – someone needs to remove the rose tinted glasses and say it like it is before the current state becomes the norm.

"I’ve designed an online survey to engage our community in proposing solutions to the issues that concern us. We may not personally possess the knowledge, skills or resources to make some of this a reality. But surely the collective genius of an entire district stands a better chance of identifying the right solutions than leaving it to a select few?

"Here’s a hyperlink that can be used for people to complete the survey - https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GMWC639.

"Complacency is the root of mediocrity. Harrogate has never been mediocre and I’m damned if I’ll let it drift toward that as long as I call it home."

Tony Lee, of Harrogate, gave his report card on the state of the town centre.

He graded the following as "good": Harrogate in Bloom; The Stray; Valley Gardens; the ‘independent sector’; Cold Bath Road shopping and cafes etc; guided tours; tourist information office; facilities such as the conference centre, theatre and the Royal Hall; Everyman and Odeon cinemas; plethora (too many?) of cafes, bars and restaurants; opportunity to encourage more events/visitors/investment.

And he rated the following as "bad": Road surfaces; confused shopping areas; lack of initiative to introduce ‘new’ different events; greedy landlords; no ‘pop-up’ shops in vacant retail spaces; insufficient support for independents.

He also suggests that Harrogate is purpose made as a venue for a "mini Edinburgh Festival".

What do you think? Share your ideas and vision for the future of Harrogate town centre. Email news@harrogateadvertiser.co.uk