MP reveals result of biggest-ever inquiry into the state of Harrogate town centre retail

Harrogate's MP says he is surprised and worried by some of the results of the biggest-ever inquiry into the state of Harrogate town centre's retail sector.

Monday, 19th August 2019, 2:35 pm
"Nearly 2,800 responses is an enormous amount" - Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones who commissioned the new public survey.

An 'enormous' response from the public to new the in-depth inquiry commissioned by Harrigate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones shows that more than 40 per cent of Harrogate people now do half or more of their shopping online.

But the results of nearly 10,000 people, selected at random, also contains positive news for the future of Harrogate's high street - 55% of respondents say they are fairly or very satisfied with Harrogate town centre.

And the inquiry also showed a lack of public concern over the controversial issue of parking in the town centre, specifically, the results show there is little appetite for more free parking.

Andrew Jones MP said: "Nearly 2,800 responses is an enormous amount and statistically gives a fair representation of local peoples’ views on the state of retail in Harrogate.

“The stand-out result though is surely the fact that over 40 per cent of people do half or more of their shopping online. This is a huge challenge for traditional retail.”

Other results which surprised him include pedestrianisation and the availability and price of parking.

More than half of all respondents (52 per cent) thought that parking charges in Harrogate are just right or too cheap.

Almost 50 per cent of respondents backed more pedestrianisation in the town with 25 per cent opposed. A quarter had not yet formed a view.

Going forward, Mr Jones said, after publishing the results of his retail inquiry, he would be taking forward discussions with key town centre groups such as the Harrogate Business Improvement District (BID), Harrogate.

Mr Jones said: “The results show that the solution is not as simple as just doing one thing to fill empty shops and tempt people back in to the town centre.

"It is a very complex picture and I will work with traders groups, landlords and local councils to address those factors."

Harrogate Retail Inquiry

Some of the other headline results are:

The majority (60 per cent) of residents shop in Harrogate because it is close to home.

Most people use their cars to get in to Harrogate and two-thirds of them found it easy to find a parking space.

Nearly three-quarters of those who had a view about cycling facilities in the town centre felt they were poor or very poor.

When asked what one thing they would change about Harrogate the most popular choice was a wider range of shops and fewer empty shops.

Only six per cent felt cheaper parking was a priority.

Only 10 per cent of respondents felt that Harrogate’s cleanliness was poor while 92 per cent felt that the appearance of local shops was average or better than average.

Almost 50 per cent of respondents backed more pedestrianisation in the town with 25 per cent opposed. A quarter had not yet formed a view.

More than 60 per cent would recommend shopping in Harrogate to a friend.