PROPOSALS to demolish a landmark building in Harrogate town centre - currently occupied by a department store - and build a four-screen cinema and space for restaurants are being prepared by a local regeneration company.
The £10 million scheme, being proposed by Harrogate-based urban regeneration specialists 4Urban Consulting Ltd., involves the redevelopment of the former Co-Operative building on Station Parade and Albert Street, currently occupied by Beales department store.
Beales, whose short-term sub-lease expires in September, has been informed about the redevelopment proposals - but it is not yet clear what the future holds for staff and jobs at the store.
If the plans gain planning permission the redevelopment will create up to 250 jobs, according to the developers.
Work is now taking place on drawing up the plans, although the developer has not said when they would be submitted.
The name of any prospective cinema operator has not been released.
Paul Lancaster, managing director of 4Urban, said: “Following detailed research and discussions with prospective tenants, it became clear that the former Co-Operative site, which is outside the prime retail core, is ideally situated for a development of this nature and can add considerably to the overall attraction of Harrogate.”
He added: “Since acquiring the building from Anglia Regional Co-Operative in 2009, we have carefully considered a number of options and believe that creation of a readily-accessible leisure scheme, at this location, will help to boost the local economy by increasing choice for residents and visitors alike and reducing leakage to other centres.”
Retailers, shoppers, residents and other interest groups will be among the stakeholders that 4Urban will be engaging with over the coming weeks, as part of a detailed programme of consultation prior to submission of the planning application.
A spokesman for the developer said: “The plans, which will be put on display at a public exhibition, involve demolition of the former Co-Operative building that dates back to the late 1950s and its replacement with a new building designed to be in sympathy with the predominantly Victorian architecture of the town centre. The Victorian buildings on Albert Street that make up part of the site will be retained.”
The future for Beales and its staff is uncertain.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Beales confirmed that it had to move out of the building by the end of September.
“The landlord of the Harrogate store has served notice on our lease which runs out at the end of September which means we have to exit the store by that time.
The landlord is seeking to redevelop the entire site, knocking down the old store and building a new set of buildings.
“Beales sought to extend its lease with the landlord but have been told that redevelopment will commence in October 2014.
Beales will be working with the landlord and then detailing the next steps for all affected employees in due course.”
The redevelopment proposals received a mixed reaction from residents of Harrogate.
Vicky Carr, a freelance writer, said: “A new cinema would be great as the Odeon is very tired and a bit pricey. I am not sure Harrogate needs more restaurants though.
“I’d rather see more family entertainment such as a bowling alley and a few indie shops.”
Carole Wellsted, of Mellow Treats boutique, said the proposals represented an “interesting prospect for that side of town,” adding: “Hopefully there will be room for some independent retail concessions to flourish.”
The proposals, if successful, could be expected to bring more visitors to Harrogate. The borough council drew up a tourism strategy in 2011 in a bid to pull in more visitors.