Letter: Nothing too exciting about Harrogate’s Town Centre Plan

After viewing the Harrogate Town Centre and Masterplan at the weekend I would like to open up the debate through your pages with the following comments.

Monday, 2nd February 2015, 6:00 pm
Harrogate Masterplan

Whilst I welcome real planning ideas there was nothing too exciting about the plan, any A level student could have put that together in a morning.

We should have asked the college and schools to offer their detailed ideas! What is the town’s greatest asset? The Stray! Whilst it is strictly controlled there are a number of improvements that could be made to make more of it.

An area of trees and picnic benches, play area for under 12s, a sculpture/art area, a designated running track/area, a cycle route, a coffee/tea/ice cream area.

The main routes into the town need to become “modern gateways” into the town so visitors feel they are entering into somewhere special.

Empty retail units need to be “tastefully camouflaged” as some of the existing units are shambolic. A weekly or permanent German/gift/craft/farmers’/Christmas market under an outdoor canopy and more outdoor cafes. People want to feel they are in Covent Garden.

More attractions for the 15-30 year olds at the Royal Hall. We used to be a regular venue for such groups as The Beatles! There is very little now. A greater use of large planters to the pedestrianised areas.

We have just gone through the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War and missed the perfect opportunity to have the cenotaph cleaned!

I agree the rail station needs a “facelift” but I would suggest “major surgery”. The station, Station Square and Station Parade needs to have a “shock and awe” effect on rail and bus visitors. Flowers, trees, water features, street entertainment, food stalls, covered coffee area - again the Covent Garden feel. The co-ordinated marketing and management of the Hydro, the showground and the International Centre needs to be a greater part of the strategy. Our schools, the college and our sports teams have an inclusive part to play.

Who will influence the Harrogate Town Centre and Masterplan the most: the council, the residents or the Chamber of Commerce?

Harrogate has the potential to be a very beautiful town, possibly one of the most beautiful in England but it totally lacks the attention to detail that would put it ahead.

The approaches into the town look neglected - especially Skipton Road. No one is willing to accept that until access into the town is changed and vastly improved the “town plan” is a waste of time and money.

Andrew Hart

Burns Way, Harrogate