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Competitive Convention Centre at heart of major business case

Harrogate Convention Centre

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THE future of the Harrogate Convention Centre site will be the subject of a major review being considered by Harrogate Borough Council at a cabinet meeting next week.

The proposals would see the Council, which owns the Convention Centre, 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 on the Kings Road site.  

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

Convention Centre director Simon Kent said agreement on developing the site further would be a ‘positive endorsement in the future of the events industry in Harrogate’.

Harrogate Convention Centre is at the heart of a major business plan by the council
L-R Head of sales and events, Brian Dobson: Convention Centre director, Simon Kent; leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Coun Richard Cooper

He said: “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 £60million 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 the plans were very much at the ‘ideas stage’ and he hoped to see a leisure and event offering which would make the Convention Centre an ‘even bigger driver of Harrogate’s visitor economy’.

The 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 minimizing disruption to the Convention Centre’s regular events during any reconstruction work.

Coun Richard Cooper, Leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said: “This study is about ensuring we not only retain but grow the £60m pumped annually in to 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".

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