What controversial developer says about Crescent Gardens in Harrogate in full

Waiting for a buyer - Crescent Gardens, the former headquarters of Harrogate Borough Council.
Waiting for a buyer - Crescent Gardens, the former headquarters of Harrogate Borough Council.

As Harrogate Borough Council attempts to find a buyer for Crescent Gardens for the second time in less than five years, the controversial developer who failed in his £75 million bid to convert the building has hit out at the whole process.

Harrogate developer Adam Thorpe's outburst follows a sequence of events which began in March 2017.

Having exchanged contracts with ATP Crescent Gardens Ltd amid talk of plans for luxury apartments at the former council headquarters, Harrogate Borough Council announced in April of this year that it had it ended the legal agreement with ATP after it said the firm had failed to submit a planning application in time after a series of delays to the project.

The council is now in the process of remarketing the property for a new commercial buyer for this historic building formerly at the civic heart of Harrogate.

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But Adam Thorpe, the Harrogate man behind ATP Crescent Gardens Ltd said he was still determined to transform Crescent Gardens.

He also denied missing the deadline for submitting a planning application or owning any rent money for the time he was based in the building.

Mr Thorpe said: “We have endeavoured to work fairly and correctly with the council. Upon leasing their office rooms to provide a base whilst working on Crescent Gardens project the licence was terminated with three working days notice.

"At that stage no rent was overdue nor was any reason given for the termination. The lease was then re agreed but at x10 the original licence amount.

"It was increased from £2,000 per month for a room to £20,000 per month. Subsequently we suffered disruption from the council moving out as well as lack of heating during those last few weeks.

He continued: "As a gesture of goodwill we have agreed to pay the amount once we either submit planning or purchase the building which we expect to be shortly.

"We have spent to date just over £1,050,000 on the scheme and the small amount being claimed by their legal department at this times adds to the lack of commercial common sense the council have shown throughout this process.

"The remarketing of the property defies belief. We have worked on the scheme with the council for two years, had the planning ready to submit and then at the council’s request carried out a public consultation.

Mr Thorpe said: "The planning documents were submitted and planning fee requested before 4pm on 5th April 2019.

"An extension was requested for the Design & Access statement to be submitted.

"This was refused on the afternoon of 5th April and a press release sent out by the council on the morning of Monday 8th April.

"I have not dealt with an organisation before that have been so obstructive to progress on the sale of their own asset.

"It seems now that they have made a mistake in doing this as the level of interest has not been at the level it was when we originally bid.

"We are assessing the situation and our planning submission with subsequent proposed purchase.

"We are still committed to restoring both the building and the area as per our plans and hope that common sense prevails in the interests of both the tax payer and more importantly the town of Harrogate."

Speaking on behalf of Harrogate Borough Council leader, Coun Richard Cooper has already dismissed all of Mr Thorpe's claims.

Coun Cooper said: "The council were keen to conclude the sale of Crescent Gardens to Mr Thorpe on the terms and deadlines agreed. Unfortunately, those terms and deadlines were not adhered to.

"We have, therefore, re-marketed and there is strong interest. We look forward to receiving the rent Mr Thorpe owes the council taxpayer - a debt which is currently with our recovery team.”

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