No final decision on HCC investment until 2022, says council


Last updated Jul 2, 2021
Harrogate Convention Centre, which is earmarked for a £47 million renovation.
Harrogate Convention Centre, which is earmarked for a £47 million renovation.

A final decision on a potential major investment in Harrogate Convention Centre (HCC) is likely to be made next year, council bosses have said.

Harrogate Borough Council outlined plans for a £46.8million project to renovate the centre last July.

Councillors backed a feasibility study ahead of the phased redevelopment of the 40-year-old centre, which will return before the council to approve the investment.

But a council spokesman has said that this final decision is to take place next year when detailed designs and costs will be presented to councillors.

It comes as a major shake-up of local government in North Yorkshire looms, which will see the borough council and the county council scrapped and replaced with either one or two unitary authorities.

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It would mean that control of the convention centre would be handed over to a new council, which the government said it aims to have in place by 2023.

Cllr Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, told the Stray Ferret last week that he was hopeful of an announcement from ministers on which model they preferred before Parliament breaks for recess on July 22.

The Stray Ferret asked the borough council how the potential reorganisation of councils in the county would affect the investment in the HCC.

A spokesman for the council said:

“The proposed reorganisation of local government in North Yorkshire and the investment in Harrogate Convention Centre are two entirely separate things.

“That’s why we are continuing with projects and initiatives such as the redevelopment of Harrogate Convention Centre, the leisure investment strategy, etc. so that we can provide modern, fit-for-purpose facilities that our residents and visitors can be proud of.

“A final decision is yet to be made on the future investment in the convention centre, and this is likely to be next year when more detailed design work and costs will be presented the council.”

Convention centre ‘will not survive’ without investment

Last year, the council said in a report that without the upgrade the convention centre “would not survive”.

The council is proposing to refurbish the conference centre, auditorium and two of the main halls. It also plans to divide the space known as Studio 2 to create “breakout facilities” for up to 1,850 delegates.

Work to upgrade the venue would be carried out over two phases.

Last July, a confidential cabinet paper seen by the Stray Ferret showed that the HCC was forecast to lose £710,000 in 2019/20.

The report said the convention centre’s financial performance had “declined significantly” since 2008/9 and renovation was needed to increase income.

Despite warnings over the state of the venue and the need for investment, businesses and councillors outside of Harrogate were left “dismayed” by the project.

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