Proposals to create event, leisure and retail 'complex' on Harrogate Convention Centre site

L-R: Brian Dobson, Harrogate Convention Centre Head of Sales and Events; Simon Kent, Director; Richard Cooper, Leader of Harrogate Borough Council. 
Picture: HCC
L-R: Brian Dobson, Harrogate Convention Centre Head of Sales and Events; Simon Kent, Director; Richard Cooper, Leader of Harrogate Borough Council. Picture: HCC

Proposals to redevelop part of Harrogate's Convention Centre into an 'event complex' including accommodation, retail outlets and leisure facilities, will be considered next week.

A major review over the future of the Harrogate Convention Centre (HCC) site will be undertaken by cabinet members of Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) at a meeting on August 23.

The proposals would see Harrogate Borough Council (HBC), which owns the HCC, draw up a business case for remodelling much of the exhibition space to create an 'event complex' on the Kings Road site.

Convention Centre Director, Simon Kent, said agreement on developing the site further would be a ‘positive endorsement in the future of the events industry in Harrogate’ but that the Royal Hall and Crowne Plaza hotel would not be included in any new scheme.

He said: “We hope to invite outside organisations to submit ideas. We need fresh thinking and ambition for Harrogate to remain the home of events in the North of England.

“Essentially we are open to interesting ideas for part of the site, or even the whole site, with the exception of the historic Royal Hall and newly refurbished Crowne Plaza hotel.

“We will be talking to organisers of regular large exhibitions, which come to us every year, to ensure those valuable clients keep coming back to us, as well as building on our successful track record of nurturing smaller events.

“Harrogate’s visitor economy is vital to the region and we, as a business, contribute an economic impact of £60 million to it annually. If the plans are given the go-ahead it will be a really positive endorsement in the future of Harrogate as a national and international event destination.”

Mr Kent said the plans were very much at the ‘ideas stage’ and he hoped to see a leisure and event offering which would make the Convention Centre an ‘even bigger driver of Harrogate’s visitor economy’.

The Council will now commission detailed studies into the requirements of the venue and how best to retain current business and attract new business.

But the Convention centre team said emphasis would be placed on minimizing disruption to the regular events at the centre during any reconstruction work.

Coun Richard Cooper, Leader of HBC, said: “This study is about ensuring we not only retain but grow the £60 million pumped annually into our local economy by the Convention Centre.

“Because the conference and exhibition world changes we need to change with them and make sure we supply the type of venue and facilities event organisers want.

"In this way we will stay one step ahead of our competitors and ensure those visitor economy pounds continue to go into the cash registers of local hotels, guest houses and shops and supports jobs."