Plans have been submitted to transform Harrogate Borough Council‘s former headquarters into offices and a roof garden restaurant.
Impala Estates, a property investment company in Harrogate, bought the Crescent Gardens site in January last year for £4 million.
It has been empty for four years since the council relocated to Knapping Mount in 2017.
Impala’s proposals include creating a gym as well as turning the former council chamber and mayor’s parlour into meeting rooms.
James Hartley, director of Impala Estates, said:
“I am hugely excited to submit a planning application after what has been a tough year for everybody.
“Our plans will ensure that this high-quality local asset is brought back to use and regenerated to deliver a building that provides not only employment space in the town centre but contributes to a community benefit that keeps Crescent Gardens as a vibrant part of Harrogate.”
Mr Hartley said Impala did not yet have a figure on how much the development would cost.
Asked whether he was concerned about letting offices now so many people were working from home, he said:
“The office market continues to change and develop and we would aim to react to these changes as necessary.”
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The council’s planning committee will decide whether to accept the application.
Graham Swift, cabinet member for economic development at the council, spoke highly of the scheme. He said:
“When Harrogate Borough Council sold Crescent Gardens to Impala Estates we were impressed by their commitment to bring much-needed office space into the centre of town to support the growing and changing economic needs of Harrogate.
“They blended this plan with the use of public space that will make Crescent Gardens and its locality a thriving, community area that boasts flexible, modern offices with functional and attractive public spaces.”
Concerns about design, parking and noise
Impala opened a public consultation on its plans in October, which according to Impala attracted 19 comments.
Four were positive; others attracted comments about design, parking, solar shading, access, noise and over visibility from the rook terrace.
A chequered history
The council’s sale of Crescent Gardens had a chequered recent history.
In March 2017, it was announced local developer Adam Thorpe was buying the site for £6.31 million. Mr Thorpe had lavish plans for a £75million pound refurbishment, including an art gallery, underground car park, swimming pool, restaurant and luxury apartments.
Two years later, in February 2019 Mr Thorpe said he had agreed sales on 10 of the 12 apartments including one “comfortably above” £10 million. Mr Thorpe’s company, ATP Ltd, then collapsed with debts of almost £11million, including £24,394.52 to the council.
The site then went back on the market and was eventually sold to Impala Estates.