Harrogate town centre masterplan set to be adopted

An artist's impression of how Harrogate town centre could look.
An artist's impression of how Harrogate town centre could look.

A 10-year masterplan for Harrogate, which includes ambitious proposals to pedestrianise parts of the town centre, is set to be adopted by senior councillors next week.

The document outlines a strategy of how the town centre could be improved over the next decade and sets out a series of projects designed to boost the economy and secure long-term viability.

Ideas include proposals for a five-star hotel and spa, outdoor cafes, improved public transport and pedestrianised areas, including James Street, which has sparked a wave of opposition from residents and retailers.

The detailed strategy, which has been recommended for approval when it is presented to Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet members on Wednesday, has been amended following a six-week public consultation last year.

As a result of concerns from nearby residents, plans to redevelop Station Avenue, which could have seen a casino or bowling alley built on the car park behind the Odeon, have been scrapped.

Coun Rebecca Burnett, cabinet member for Planning and Sustainable Transport, said: “We had put that in there as an idea because it’s a good space that has the potential for redevelopment.

“Following feedback from residents, we didn’t think it was appropriate to keep that in there when there are properties so close to that car park, as we were talking about a several storey-high development.”

Other alterations include changes to the timings of certain projects.

Coun Burnett said: “It was mentioned that we might want to look at existing sites before we make any big changes.

“So we are going to look at improving areas like Oxford and Cambridge Street before we look at potentially pedestrianising James Street.”

Despite drawing criticism from a number of residents and business owners, Coun Burnett stressed that the main feedback at events, which had been organised to showcase the plans, had been “really positive”.

She said: “People are really pleased we are being proactive about what could be done to improve the town.

“It’s all about taking advantage of opportunities that come forward. If we are not prepared to do that, we are going to miss them.”

Coun Burnett said she was happy with the plan and was confident that it would be adopted, but assured residents that if any of the ideas were taken forward there would be further consultation.

“This is approval of a high level ideas document. As we take them forward there will be more consultation on every single one,” she said.

“It’s a positive plan for the town. We have a great town centre but we can’t rest on that and think it can’t ever get any better. It’s about looking to the future.”

Coun Burnett said once the masterplan was approved, there would be discussions with officers about what opportunities there were to take projects forward before any work began.