Renaissance focus on major town schemes

Voluntary group Renaissance Knaresborough has announced that it is aiming to make 2021 brighter.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 1:56 pm

The not-for-profit outfit has highlighted initiatives including a cliff lift and renovation of the popular window paintings, to bring in visitors to the town, despite the pandemic.

Newly appointed Chairman Coun Zoe Metcalfe explained: “Renaissance Knaresborough’s role is to support activities which promote the town’s heritage, arts, culture, leisure, tourism, infrastructure, and entertainment, making a great town even better.

“Perhaps the most notorious RK project has been the Cliff Lift, a mechanical transportation system linking waterside with the castle grounds and easier access to the town.

“Towards the end of 2019 an independent tourism consultant was appointed to determine the economic viability of the project concept.

“The findings concluded that the scheme was a viable prospect, stating “it is no longer a question of if, but when?”

She said the project has received interest from the private sector investors but a drawback is in securing land and development rights.

“For any development to take shape it requires a development agreement with the landowner,” explained Coun Metcalfe.

“In this instance, the Castle and its grounds (defined as Listed Monument) are owned by the Duchy Estate, and Harrogate Borough Council manage the grounds under a long-term lease.

“However, this long lease is now only 12 years away from term end, insufficient time for any large-scale investment. To progress the project further this issue must be resolved.”

The Renaissance group said that another vitally important project is the repair and maintenance of the highly popular ‘trompe l’oeil’ towns windows.

Originally an idea adopted from the FEVA festival, RK installed eight windows back in 2008 and had grown to 16 on ten properties.

“Given their popularity, others have commissioned paintings over the years, they are not all managed by one organisation,” added Coun Metcalfe.

“Regrettably, we lost a town window painting on Briggate last year due to a change in property ownership, in combination with some much-needed repair work needed on the painting.

“This spurned us to reconnect with all town custodians and commence a programme of repair and restoration, as well as commencing a fundraising campaign.

“To date we have raised over £1,500, and we would like to say a massive thank you to all that have contributed.”

A rolling programme of repair and maintenance is planned for the town windows this year, as well as a new painting.

“We think this is a great opportunity to appeal to local schoolchildren to take up the challenge in defining a new character for a new town window,” added Coun Metcalfe.

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