Plans have finally been revealed to transform the former Harper’s building on Starbeck High Street in Harrogate.
The building has been a vacant eyesore for six years since it was ravaged by fire, despite attempts to brighten it up by painting the blue and yellow colours of Ukraine on the side.
But a meeting on Friday heard the owner wants to create two to four ground floor retail units and up to 24 one-bedroom flats.
A public consultation is expected to take place within the next few months.
A public exhibition highlighting new proposals was expected to take place before Christmas but never occurred.
But Friday’s meeting at neighbouring St Andrew’s Church, which was attended by the agent and architect amongst others, indicated progress was happening.
Tom Cook, divisional director for the Leeds area of planning agency Zerum Consulting, said:
“Hopefully it is clear from the plans that the owners have been working hard to deliver a high-quality scheme that will become a cornerstone of local regeneration for Starbeck.”
“It appears to have been well received from the recent meeting and is now dependent on the planners/council accepting an argument on affordability to give the development the best possible chance of being built to provide 25 new (build to rent) homes ideal for young people in the area.”
Postmaster Andrew Hart, who runs the Red Box in Starbeck, has been campaigning for the building to be brought back to life for many years.
Mr Hart, who attended the meeting, said “everything we heard and saw was very positive and encouraging” and the designs had the potential to create a “flagship building to be very proud of”. He added:
“The owners have come forward with a fantastic proposal. We now have a team of people working together alongside the owners to bring this to fruition. The proposed retail units with up to 24 affordable rented flats with enhance our growing and prosperous High Street.”
Mr Hart said multiple business have moved to Starbeck in the past two years, adding:
“We hope to continue this very positive trend and attract further investment in the few remaining empty premises. We are very aware of other investors who are now keen to step in. Watch this space.”
He said the historic Harper’s stone at the top of the building would be retained but moved to the corner overlooking The Prince Of Wales.
Cllr Phillip Broadbank, a Liberal Democrat who represents Fairfax and Starbeck, said:
“I am pleased it would appear progress has been made, it has gone on long enough.”
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