Showground chief vows to press on with hotel plans

Revised Plans for a hotel at the Great Yorkshire Showground are likely to be brought forward, despite the recent rebuffal by local councillors.

Saturday, 11th June 2016, 7:01 am
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 12:24 pm
The Great Yorkshire Showground. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

The chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, Nigel Pulling, said the “commercial logic” remained unchanged and any overnight accommodation on the Society’s Harrogate showground would complement its new £11.5m exhibition hall perfectly.

A decision is expected soon on what the next step forward for the hotel plans is, Mr Pulling said, with the Society having been left to consider its options after last month’s ruling by Harrogate Borough Council.

A proposed 98-room Roomzzz Aparthotel had been recommended for approval by council officers but was rejected by the planning committee.

A refusal notice from the council said the proposed building would have an “over-dominant effect in the area” and would be “harmful to the character and spatial quality of the area” because of its scale, siting and design.

But during a week when the Society opened its new exhibition hall at the showground - the largest project in its 179-year history - Mr Pulling said the Society’s ambitions had not been inhibited.

“The developer is considering what to do and we are expecting a decision shortly,” Mr Pulling told Country Week.

“We will be pressing on in one shape or another. There is no doubt that having this new hall and a new hotel would complement each other. If we are having national or regional events here, there will be more demand for accommodation.

“The commercial logic remains sound and we will be trying to achieve that.”

The Society’s chief described the huge new exhibition hall as “a statement of confidence”, and that he hoped major southern-based events would consider relocating to the showground or at least adding it as a new base.

“The hall has a dual purpose. We will use it to showcase events we run - the first thing we have is the Countryside Day next week when 6,000 children will be using the new hall for a host of activities, and then it is the Great Yorkshire Show.

“We have got a lot of events that have been with us for a long time and this gives them the opportunity to expand but we want to attract new events and generate extra revenue to pay for the hall and to boost our activities.

“We are very confident it will be a success. The question is how quickly. It’s become clear that as soon as you have something to show it is easier to get people interested. The interest is really revving up now and we’re confident we’ll get there.”

And Mr Pulling emphasised that the motivation behind building the new hall was the agricultural and rural communities that the Society works to support.

“It’s a statement of confidence in the Society and it gives us a springboard because this is all about doing more for the industry - holding events and taking us to the next level financially. If we want to support the rural community this is how we do it. We generate money and put it back into the industry through the Farmer Scientist Network, Future Farmers of Yorkshire and the events we hold.”