The property developer behind the £75m conversion of the former Council Offices at Crescent Gardens into luxury apartments says he will be applying for planning permission within the next few weeks and expects to begin work in summer.
The building has stood empty since the council moved out to purpose built new offices at Knapping Mount in November.
Adam Thorpe, who exchanged contracts on the building with the council a year ago, has said he intends to transform the building into between 10 to 14 apartments, including two penthouses, with prices for the smallest two-bedroom apartment starting at £2.5m and the most expensive four-bedroom priced at more than £10m each.
This week he said: “We had a positive meeting with the Council’s head of planning last week as part of the ongoing pre-app inquiry process. The council say our scheme remains authentic to our bid. Once that process completes in early March, we proceed to a formal planning application.”
He said the process leading to the planning application had taken a long time because the application also includes revamping the garden area in front of the council offices, which will remain public open space, and closing off the road in front as part of the deal.
He said: “We have had to prepare open space agreements regarding the park, a number of surveys had to be completed - you’ve got public space, you’ve got a road, you’ve got 28 subterranean wells, a spring, a sub station within the building - there are a lot of aspects to look at.
“This is a 60,000 sq ft development, 35,000 sq ft of it subterranean.”
He says subject to planning, work will start on the site in July/August, and is still on target to complete in 2020. The plan will retain the facade and central chamber, where he plans to create a public art gallery, and the rest of the building will be demolished.
This week he said: “We know who is going in the building, they are clients known to us.”
The council has not confirmed the price paid for the council offices, or the non refundable deposit Mr Thorpe paid on exchange of contracts, citing ‘commercial sensitivities’ in answer to a previous FoI request.
The leader of Harrogate Council, Coun Richard Cooper said this week: “The public, like the council will be watching to ensure Mr Thorpe sticks to this timetable.”