We have submitted an expression of interest for the Government's new Future High Streets Fund which aims to support and fund local areas' plans to make their high streets and town centres fit for the future.
Having considered the criteria we decided to submit an expression of interest focussing on the town centre of Harrogate.
Harrogate town centre plays a pivotal role in driving the local economy, being the district's largest retail, leisure, business and tourist destination and an important source of local employment, therefore the strategic proposals will have a significant impact on the wider rural area.
However, weaknesses in the Harrogate economy are restricting business expansion, limiting opportunities for inward investment, preventing sustainable local economic growth and damaging the town centre.
Economic statistics as well as engagement with local businesses, investors and developers, reveal that Harrogate faces a number of significant economic challenges which include the following:
- forecast slower growth rate than the region
- workplace earnings below the national average
- transport connectivity, congestion and accessibility
- town centre appearance
- housing affordability
- vacant properties
- shortage of quality modern office space
Without intervention it is likely that these challenges will worsen over time, creating an underperforming and unsustainable local economy.
We have a strategic vision and masterplan for the town centre already in place, which is a transformational programme involving multi-agency stakeholders. This provides the framework for a number of opportunities to be brought forward to specifically enhance the performance of the town centre. The Future High Street Fund will be key to unlocking and delivering additional economic benefits whilst addressing these challenges. The opportunities include:
- investment in physical infrastructure - which will address the town centre appearance, vitality, transport and pedestrian flow challenges in order to make the town centre a more attractive place to live, work and visit
- supporting adaptation of the high street in response to changing technology - developing Harrogate as a Smart Town to address challenges such as transport connectivity and congestion, and supporting the visitor and business economy
- capital fund for strategic investments - acquisition and assembly of land - enabling a comprehensive town centre redevelopment which will create a new transport interchange alongside high quality mixed-use development (offices, residential, retail, leisure and public realm) to address the challenges of forecasted slower economic growth, housing affordability, shortage of office supply and attracting businesses and younger people
- supporting change of use - to provide a wide choice of retail services alongside well-designed and planned residential, office and leisure space in order to address the mismatch between the supply of existing space and the demand for different types of space
- improvements to transport access, traffic flow and circulation - focussing on car parking, highway and pedestrian improvements and signal optimisation to address the town centre's accessibility and connectivity
Page last updated 04/04/2019