Last chance to have your say on Harrogate town centre’s future

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Harrogate’s streets could be lined with cafe seating and free of parked cars if proposals to remodel parts of the town centre get the go ahead.

Residents and business owners have until tomorrow to give their views to Harrogate Borough Council, though so far fewer than 100 people have logged their opinions on the council’s website.

The proposals include;

-Pedestrianising James Street

-Redeveloping the train and bus station area on Station Parade to greatly enhance this gateway to the town centre.

- Create public space which could be used for European style outdoor dining.

-Create a new tiered performance space at Prospect Gardens with spill-out spaces around the Cenotaph and on Montpellier Parade.

The removal of on street parking on James Street, combined with the weekend and evening parking charges North Yorkshire County Council has proposed could have a detrimental impact on town centre businesses, County Coun David Simister (UKIP, Bilton and Nidd Gorge) has said.

“Those behind these ill thought out proposals have not the first clue about our town. Making improvement to favour motorists instead of cyclists and reducing parking charges and making it free on certain days will boost trade,” Coun Simister said: “If residents don’t voice their concerns then I’m afraid we can say goodbye to the town centre that we know and love.”

Commenting on the council’s proposals online Sir Robert Ogden questioned why the council was looking to make changed to James Street at all.

He said: “ James Street is one of the major success stories in Harrogate and indeed all of Yorkshire, attracting the highest rents and rates, with a waiting list of businesses wanting to move in and rarely a boarded-up unit, even in the recession. Surely any successful ‘Masterplan’ would not need to include a street that works as well as James Street?”

Regarding the plans to encourage outdoor dining in European style piazzas Sir Robert commented: “Harrogate is a northern town that is cold and wet for much of the year – it is hardly Rome!”

Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainable Transport, Coun Rebecca Burnett (Con, Rossett) said the council had seen an uplift in public responses in recent weeks.

She said: “We have had quite a lot of positive comments. You can’t please everyone, that is the challenge in every single thing the council does, but with this we believe our plans are the best thing for the town centre, but we want to hear what people think of it.

“Harrogate town centre is successful, we aren’t doing anything that would be to the detriment of that, we want to enhance the success of the town.”

The masterplan by Peter Brett Associates highlights Harrogate town centres popularity as a shopping destination, with an estimated turnover of £300 million per annum.

The report said: “Harrogate’s overall retail offer is more traditional, upmarket and appealing to older people. It is notable that over 40 per cent of existing leisure visitors to Harrogate are people over 55 and that spend per head is higher than elsewhere in Yorkshire.”

The report also says that the council would need to make up for the loss of on-street parking proposed by improving signs to point visitors to under used multi-storey car parks and to continue to look for opportunities to create a park and ride.”

Email your views to Visit to comment on the plans.