Harrogate Convention Centre bosses ask for an extra £40k to continue redevelopment plan

Harrogate Convention Centre bosses will ask for an extra £40,000 to continue planning the redevelopment of the town's key attraction.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 11:15 am
Harrogate Convention Centre's director Paula Lorimer.

Cabinet member for economic development, Graham Swift, will consider an appeal next week for an additional £40,000 to prepare plans for the centre's future, after already receiving £175,000 over the last two years for the work.

According to a report on the matter, £175,000 of council-funding has already been spent on preparing the outline business case and consultancy work for the centre's future redevelopment.

However, a change in convention centre leadership in February 2019 - when current director Paula Lorimer took over from the outgoing Simon Kent - also saw a change in sales strategy, the report to be considered by Coun Swift states.

"Given their revised sales strategy for the venue going forward, the client team no longer consider the original preferred redevelopment option to meet their future needs," the report states.

"The HCC client team have now therefore developed an alternative view on a preferred option to take forward".

In a statement, convention centre director Paula Lorimer confirmed the work already carried out will be used alongside the new ideas.

“A revitalised convention centre is essential to compete in today’s event industry and is vital to the future prosperity of our town," Ms Lorimer said.

“Plans for HCC’s redevelopment are now at an advanced stage and the work carried out so far on the business case has been vital in terms of providing us with credible options to consider.

“Since becoming director, the management team and I have built on the work already undertaken to ensure a sustainable and affordable proposition for HCC, based on a revised configuration and phased approach to the redevelopment work.

“At this stage, it is absolutely correct we invest time and resources to ensure the best outcome is achieved.

“We want a development that is fit for the future, that works for our clients and is something we can all be proud of.”

She added the new proposition will be presented to the centre's board for consideration in late November.

If approved, an extra £40,000 worth of work will be carried out by Cushman & Wakefield, the commercial real estate consultants who have so far done the bulk of the centre's proposed redevelopment.

Two applications were submitted last year in a bid to "enliven" the entrance to the centre, in an attempt to make it more vibrant and attractive to visitors.

Among the work approved was a new plaza and seating area, as well as brick pillars created to separate pedestrian and vehicle areas, alongside new security measures including galvanised steel bollards which can rise in six seconds.

The centre, owned by the borough council, welcomes more than 300,000 visitors every year and is credited with bringing an estimated £60m in visitor spend to the local economy.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter