Town Centre Survey: What our readers said about their Harrogate town centre
An outpouring of responses have been received by the Advertiser following its call for residents to share their views on the state of the town centre.
Among those were a number who agreed to be named and say what they believe could be done to improve it.
A range of ideas were submitted by other residents, suggesting how businesses, transport, tourism and more could be supported in Harrogate.
“Even if it’s only after 6.30pm until 10 am to start with , all streets should be open to traffic, even if it’s only one way,otherwise all of the paved areas are like a no go area ghost town.
“No town has ever been based on a non road grid, not New York, not London, not even one of the busiest shopping streets in the world, Oxford Street in the West End.
“So the theatre will have some life around it, you can walk from Betty’s to the Station taxi rank through a lively street.
“We obviously do not need the paved streets because that totally irrelevant market that sells totally dreadful stuff, which blocks access to the established shop windows, blocks over half of the paved area.
“So a one way street 100% of the time would leave wide enough pavements with access to shops to pick up goods etc.
“It’s Plymouth or Portsmouth who have ripped up some paved streets to bring back life to areas, and it also lets visitors discover that we have lots of shops they never see if they just drive through town on the few roads left to flow normally.”
“Reduce the rents on retail premises, and free bus service from out of town car park. Also reduce business rates.”
“Harrogate is vibrant with local food and drink stores but we must support them regularly”
“An indoor leisure complex to compliment the traditional attractions of the town centre.“
“Reduce the rates for independent businesses.”
“Lower rates and rents needed, then Beulah Street might keep the little Italian and not have lost the Greengrocer.”
“Fully enclose streets with weatherproof glass roof and access walls, look at Rotterdam’s Markthal Market.”
“Many retirees (and younger people too), are not blessed with iron-clad bladders and a good early warning system. Better well signed facilities right in the middle of the shopping precinct are needed.”
Best of the rest...
* “Use a big empty store and break it into smaller rentable areas for independents to get off the ground. This would stop shops being empty and offer a unique shopping experience.”
* “Stop assuming you can force people to shop there by introducing more high street brands - people’s habits have changed. Instead, encourage unusual and independent businesses in a market-style setting with products you can’t get online, look at experiences in the town centre such as escape rooms and activities for families, and get a good programme of events throughout the year to get people coming into town. Once there, they’re far more likely to use local shops, cafes etc, and the town centre will feel vibrant again - such as it does during the Christmas market.”
* “Cut the business rates they are ridiculously high don’t know anyone can afford the business rates in this climate. Would encourage more independents to move in and help existing businesses to survive. Harrogate is not London so they shouldn’t have to pay London prices. Harrogate is a small Market town and should go back to been one with independent retailers.”
* “Give small and independent businesses the chance to operate trial pop up shops in empty premises - then incentivise them to open permanent premises (lesser rates, mentoring and assistance, etc).”
* “Relocate the bus station to create a large flexible public square which could be used for outdoor events / food & arts and crafts markets etc. This would be a great first impression for visitors arriving by train."
* “Pedestrianise James Street and Commercial Street. Simplify the pedestrian crossing at the Cheltenham Parade/Station Parade junction by banning left turn down into Lower Station Parade.”
* “Leisure ideas - bowling alley , ice skating rink. Bring people/families into Harrogate. Have a water area or large area with seats like Bradford for hot days where people can cool down and gather. Better bigger swimming pool, with several slides outdoor area of pool for summer days somewhere for fun rather than strict swimming.”
* “Businesses to stop aiming to attract conference/tourist trade and favour locals. Also stop people using the area around the cenotaph for sunbathing and picnics - it is disrespectful”
* “Go back to the traditions of the town. Promote it as a tourist attraction and encourage independents to support the town again.”
* “I would like to see businesses encouraged to keep the area outside their building clean. For instance in Spain all the streets are swept and washed daily by the businesses. We may not be able to have the biggest shopping centre, but we could have the most pleasant to visit.”
* “Clean, tidy up and properly maintain what we already have rather than pursuing grandiose expansion plans. Recognise the jewels such as Victoria Gardens and be realistic about local weather - North Yorkshire is not the place for an alfresco cafe culture,other than for two weeks in a normal summer. The outdoor ‘entertainment space’ or amphitheatre opposite the station was a disaster and was filled in - do not repeat the mistake.
* “Use the Crescent Gardens offices for housing the homeless around the area.”
*“Remove trash when bins are full. Paint bins - school community groups could do it - with lively art. Clean out weeds in front of places. More colour. More vibrant. More pride in community. Police or community service on foot to assist people where to go or if need of help. “How Can I Help You?” Really stress positive first rate customer service and not same old same old.”