Row of empty Knaresborough shops - empty for 40 years - set to be purchased by council

A stretch of Knaresborough shops that have been uninhabited for decades are set to be purchased by Harrogate Borough Council.

Friday, 14th December 2018, 5:15 pm
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 5:22 pm
Coun Ed Darling in front of the Knaresborough shops.

Harrogate district to be gripped by freezing rain and snow blizzards as icy blast hits this weekendThe council are looking to buy four properties from 78 to 82a High Street, following negotiations with the owners of the empty shops.

At a meeting with the owners in London, the council team were formally invited to submit an offer following months of discussions trying to persuade the owner to bring the rundown buildings back in to use.

Knaresborough High Street.

The properties, some of which have been empty for decades, are owned by Freshwater Properties.

The owners have been reluctant to refurbish the shops, which have been left empty for at least 30 years.

As listed buildings they are exempt from business rates and so have not been costing the owners anything while they have been empty.

Harrogate Borough and Knaresborough town Councillor Ed Darling said a compulsory purchase could be made if the initial offer wasn’t accepted.

Land transfer approved in next step for Starbeck homeless shelter“Once the council has made an offer to buy the properties there will be some discussion around that offer I am sure. I want those discussions to be quick and for a date to be set when compulsory purchase powers will be used to move the issue forward should those discussions be unsuccessful,” Knaresborough town Councillor Ed Darling said.

“These buildings have been empty for far too long – longer than I have been alive – and I am pleased that the council has reached this important stage in bringing these units back into use.”

Cr Darling said that the “priority at this stage is to have the empty shops under our control” but didn’t rule out them being turned into homes.

“There are then various options available to HBC including refurbishing and letting them as retail units, or turning them into residential properties,” he said.

Patient Transport Services in Harrogate and North Yorkshire come under the spotlight after cutbacksKnaresborough Chamber of trade and commerce president Steve Teggin welcomed the move from the council, but stated “it would be a crime” if the shops were turned into housing.

“Those shops have been empty for over 30 years now, and coming in from Harrogate or Boroughbridge, it’s a shame that its been the first thing people see,” he said.

“From the chamber’s point of view we’d be absolutely over the moon if something is done about it.”

Mr Teggin said that, given the amount of housing development occurring on the outskirts of Knaresbourgh, it was important that the buildings retained their role as business premises to serve the growing population.

“It would be a crime if they were pushed into housing,” he said.

Lachlan Leeming , Local Democracy Reporting Service