Plans to make Harrogate Convention Centre more competitive

Harrogate Convention Centre

9:26am 18th August 2017
(Updated 9:34am 18th August 2017)

The future of Harrogate Convention Centre is going to be considered by councillors next week.

New plans would see Harrogate Borough Council, which owns the site, drawing up a business case for remodelling much of the exhibition space to create a "progressive" event complex which could include new accommodation, retail outlets and leisure facilities.

The Royal Hall and Crowne Plaza hotel would not be included in any new scheme.

Convention Centre Director Simon Kent said that agreement on developing the site further would be a "positive endorsement in the future of the events industry in Harrogate".

He added: "We hope to invite outside organisations to submit ideas. We need fresh thinking and ambition for Harrogate to remain the home of events in the North of England.

"Essentially, we are open to interesting ideas for part of the site, or even the whole site, with the exception of the historic Royal Hall and newly-refurbished Crowne Plaza hotel.

"We will be talking to organisers of regular large exhibitions, which come to us every year, to ensure those valuable clients keep coming back to us, as well as building on our successful track record of nurturing smaller events.

"Harrogate's visitor economy is vital to the region and we, as a business, contribute an economic impact of £60 million to it annually. If the plans are given the go-ahead, it will be a really positive endorsement in the future of Harrogate as a national and international event destination."

Mr Kent said that the plans were very much at the "ideas stage" and he hopes to see a leisure and event offering which would make the Convention Centre an "even bigger driver of Harrogate's visitor economy".

Harrogate Borough Council will now commission detailed studies into the requirements of the venue and how best to retain current business and attract new business.

As a going concern, emphasis would be placed on minimising disruption to the Convention Centre's regular events during any reconstruction work.

Councillor Richard Cooper, Leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said: "This study is about ensuring we not only retain but grow the £60 million pumped annually into our local economy by the Convention Centre.

"Because the conference and exhibition world changes, we need to change with them and make sure we supply the type of venue and facilities event organisers want. In this way, we will stay one step ahead of our competitors and ensure those visitor economy pounds continue to go into the cash registers of local hotels, guest houses and shops and supports jobs."

Harrogate Convention Centre - Brian Dobson, Simon Kent and Richard Cooper

Brian Dobson, Harrogate Convention Centre's Head of Sales and Events, Director Simon Kent and Councillor Richard Cooper

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