£20m funding bid for Harrogate Convention Centre refurbishment rejected
Last updated Nov 21, 2023
Harrogate Convention Centre

North Yorkshire Council’s hopes of winning £20m from the government to go towards a major refurbishment of Harrogate Convention Centre were dashed today.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced the winners of the third round of the Levelling Up Fund, with more than £1.1bn awarded to 55 schemes — but Harrogate was not on the list.

Unlike the first two rounds, councils were not invited to make formal bids for funding.

Instead, the government selected the best bids from round two that were not chosen last time.

The government scored each bid out of 100, with criteria including deliverability and the characteristics of each place.

The news will come as a blow but not necessarily a surprise to North Yorkshire Council.

Previously published feedback on the convention centre bid described it as “relatively strong” but said it lacked “evidence and rationale” into how the proposals would increase business.

The council has still not decided if it will proceed with a £49m refurbishment of the facility which it inherited from the defunct Harrogate Borough Council.

A contractor has been appointed to draw up more detailed plans for the redevelopment and a final decision was expected this year.

The convention centre opened in 1982 with conferences providing a boost to the town’s bars, restaurants and hotels, however, it has struggled to turned a profit.

It’s hoped the refurbishment would help the facility compete with other conference venues in the north but it remains unclear how North Yorkshire Council, which is looking to slash £70m from its budget over the next three years, will pay for it.

Nic Harne, the council’s corporate director for community development, said:

“We received £19m from the second round of levelling up funding for redeveloping Catterick Garrison’s town centre.

“We are disappointed that other projects have not been allocated funding under the department’s assessment process and will be seeking feedback on why those schemes were not prioritised.

“Our bids were submitted by the former councils and we could not put any further bids in.”

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