Government rejects £20m levelling up bid for Harrogate Convention Centre
Last updated Jan 19, 2023
Michael Gove
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has rejected the Harrogate Convention Centre bid.

The government has rejected Harrogate Borough Council‘s bid for £20 million to go towards the redevelopment of Harrogate Convention Centre.

Last night’s decision is a significant blow for plans for a £49 million upgrade of the ageing centre and casts further doubt on the facility’s future.

More than 100 projects have been awarded a share of £2.1 billion from round two of the Levelling Up Fund.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, led by Michael Gove, rewarded six schemes from Yorkshire and the Humber, including £41 million to West Yorkshire Combined Authority for better bus services.

There was also £19 million to regenerate Catterick Garrison in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Richmond constituency.

But there was nothing for Harrogate Convention Centre or anywhere else in the Harrogate district.

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A council Cabinet report on August 17 said it had submitted a levelling up funding bid on August 1.

It said Investment would “help to ensure that HCC can both sustain and enhance its position within the market place, support the ‘levelling up’ agenda and ensure that the economic benefits that this project delivers to the wider economy are maximised”.

But it also warned:

“Expectations do need to be managed as there are still some significant challenges in relation to this bid, in particular: Harrogate district is a priority three area therefore our chances of success are not high (only 7% of those were funded in round 1 of the fund).”

Control of the centre will transfer to North Yorkshire Council on April 1, when Harrogate Borough Council is abolished.

Last week Richard Flinton, who will be chief executive of North Yorkshire Council, refused to commit to the £49 million redevelopment and said the conference and events venue needed to be vibrant and relevant in the face of competition from a new venue in Leeds rather than “an enormous drain on public finances”.

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