The four big decisions facing North Yorkshire Council in 2024 and what impact they will have on Harrogate residents

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2024 is the first full year for North Yorkshire Council after it took over from Harrogate Borough Council, the other district councils and the former county council in a huge shake-up of local government last year.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service looks at four key decisions it is set to make that will all have a big impact for residents living in the Harrogate area.

Harrogate Convention Centre’s £40 million redevelopment

Ever since what is now known as the Harrogate Convention Centre opened in 1982 there have been questions over its future.

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North Yorkshire Council is facing four big decisions in 2024 which could have an impact on Harrogate residentsNorth Yorkshire Council is facing four big decisions in 2024 which could have an impact on Harrogate residents
North Yorkshire Council is facing four big decisions in 2024 which could have an impact on Harrogate residents

The facility has struggled to turn a profit with successive council administrations wrestling with what to do with it, conscious of its cost to council tax payers.

A council report two years ago said it is the largest driver of economic impact in the area with many bars, restaurants and hotels depending on the business through conferences and exhibitions.

However, critics have long argued that the Harrogate Convention Centre would perform better under private ownership.

In recent years, new conference venues have opened up in the north so Harrogate Borough Council announced plans for a transformative £40m upgrade to help it keep up with the competition.

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A decision on whether the redevelopment goes ahead was passed over to North Yorkshire Council but it won’t be an easy one for the cash-strapped authority.

It’s facing a budget shortfall of £25m this year and has other priorities such as adult social care, schools and housing.

Ripon Cathedral’s new song school and café

A storm has been brewing since Ripon Cathedral unveiled plans for a new two-storey building on its public open space known as Minster Gardens.

The Cathedral remains one of the city’s best-loved attractions but the plans have left a sour taste for some local business owners and residents.

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The Dean of Ripon says the new building is much-needed and will provide a new song school for its choir, a café, toilet facilities and disabled access.

Controversially, the plans include chopping down a veteran beech tree as well as 10 other trees on the gardens which has energised campaigners.

There have also some business owners have said they fear the scheme could “funnel” tourists away from city centre, taking away income from cafes and shops.

All eyes will be on councillors in the Skipton and Ripon parliamentary constituency area who will make a decision on the plans soon.

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Harrogate Spring Water’s expansion and Rotary Wood

Over the last 25 years, Harrogate Spring Water has grown to become perhaps the town’s best-known international brand.

Some in Harrogate look at the Danone-owned company’s success as a badge of pride whereas others wince at the town’s association with plastic water bottles.

The firm’s success means it wants to produce more water bottles at its factory on Harlow Moor Road and create 50 more jobs.

Three years ago, councillors rejected a bid to chop down trees in Rotary Wood next to its headquarters in order to expand the factory.

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It captured the imagination of the national media and was billed as a battle between business and the environment.

The previous plans became a PR nightmare for Harrogate Spring Water so since then, the company has been carefully drawing up new proposals in at attempt to win over councillors and the Harrogate public, particularly around the emotive subject of trees.

Late last year it published new plans for the expansion and is proposing to plant 1,200 young trees in an area behind the Pinewoods to replace the 450 that will be chopped down at Rotary Wood.

The area will be open to the public and the new proposal goes much further than what was previously being offered on land behind RHS Harlow Carr.

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The company hopes the application will be decided by Harrogate and Knaresborough councillors as early as February.


Controversy over a potential “new settlemenent” near Cattal, Green Hammerton, Kirk Hammerton and Whixley has rumbled on for almost a decade.

Thousands of homes and two new primary schools could be built there to change the face of the rural villages forever.

The future of the scheme was thrown into disarray last January when a farmer which owns fields around Cattal train station, making up around half of the proposed site, pulled out of an expected deal to sell land to developer Caddick Group.

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It’s left North Yorkshire Council scrambling to try and rescue the troubled scheme.

As Maltkiln will deliver so many new homes, the council has a say in how it’s being developed and officers have been working on a Development Plan Document (DPD) for several years ahead of a submission to government who will inspect the plans to judge if it’s still viable.

Last month, the authority said it would even be willing to use a compulsory purchase order as a “last resort” to ensure that Maltkiln is built.

If it came to that, it would likely cost millions of pounds and would be an unprecedented step for North Yorkshire Council.

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