Harrogate Borough Council is considering a major £46.8 million investment in the Harrogate Convention Centre.
The council will ask the cabinet next week to spend £1 million on detailed design and project work. The majority of that £1 million will be borrowed. It is unclear how the council will fund the full refurbishment.
Harrogate Convention Centre is now over 40 years old and the council has acknowledged that the infrastructure and equipment are both reaching the end of their useful life.
Council documents estimate that without investment, it would cost £19 million in long term maintenance costs and the “venue will not survive.”
It is also unclear when the project would start as the NHS has extended the Nightingale Hospital contract over the past few months.
The Prime Minister recently confirmed it could stay until March 2021, though no agreement has been reached with the NHS.
- How long Harrogate’s Nightingale will remain in place
- Why some councillors think Harrogate should be compensated for the Nightingale
- How the extension of the Nightingale contract is a “huge blow” for local businesses
The council is proposing to refurbish the conference centre, auditorium and two of the main halls. They also plan to divide the space known as Studio 2 to create “breakout facilities” for up to 1,850 delegates.
Plans also include “refreshing the look” of the outside of the building and improving access between internal spaces. To improve the centre’s energy costs the council also plans to improve the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
The second phase of the plans also proposes demolishing a part of the site to make way for a new 5,000 square metre events space. The report assumes a three year delay between the first and second phases.
The centre’s managers said they are moving away from focusing purely on exhibitions to include large national association conferences, attracting more than 500 delegates. They said this will increase the £35 million economic impact brought to the town by the venue.
Paula Lorimer, the director of Harrogate Convention Centre, said:
“Our exciting plans will reinvigorate and re-establish the convention centre. My ambition is for us to return to the top tier of conference and exhibition centres in the UK as we attract new – and bigger – events in the future. This will have a significant, positive, impact on the local economy.”