Burnt-out Harrogate store: New plea for action

A burnt-out site in the heart of one of Harrogate’s main streets is in danger of becoming a long-term eyesore if action is not taken.

Friday, 3rd May 2019, 12:44 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd May 2019, 1:01 pm
Eyesore - Harrogate Borough Council Coun Philip Broadbank with the ex-McColls site behind him in Starbeck in Harrogate.

In July last year, the empty former McColls store on Starbeck High Street was hit by a huge fire which destroyed its roof and caused huge plumes of smoke and flames.

The roofless, derelict building next to St Andrew’s Church has laid empty with no apparent plans for its future ever since the fire crews put out the blaze.

For nearly six months afterwards the neighbouring footpath and pedestrian crossing were closed to residents for safety reasons.

There was hope of progress when they were both declared to be safe to be reused by local residents and shoppers at the start of the year.

But that was four months ago and the borough councillor for the Harrogate Starbeck ward is now saying he is concerned that no plans have been submitted yet for this key location.

Liberal Democrat, Coun Philip Broadbank said: “This is a prominent and important site on the High Street and I think the future of the site and land needs to be addressed. “We need to know what the site owners plan to do with the site. It must not be left in the state it is currently in for much longer without some future plans being announced.”

Coun Broadbank said the site could potentially be used to revive Starbeck High Street with new independent shops.But he is growing increasingly concerned about the lack of action from the owners on the blackened former shop which has stood there for more than a 100 years.

Coun Broadbank said: “It would be great if we could have some independent shops in the retail units.“We need to boost the number of retail outlets on the High Street to strengthen the viability of the area.“It is now nearly four months since the loose slates and former shop site were dealt with and the county council was satisfied the area safe and secure enough for the pedestrian crossing to be fully restored. “No plans have been submitted to the council yet about the future of the site. It is now time to get the matter of what to do with the damaged building and land resolved. “I have written to the owners asking for clarification and the possibility of meeting on site with them to discuss the issue.“We need to know what their intentions are about this area and how soon a planning application can be submitted.“In my view the site should be cleared and replaced with retail units at the ground floor with one and two bedroomed flats above.”

Should the stalemate continue for a matter of years, Harrogate Borough Council could step in with its compulsory purchase powers should it wish to do so.