Case for new exhibition hall is laid bare in report to town planners

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Damp masonry, leaking gutters and an out-dated design mean the main exhibition hall at the Great Yorkshire Showground is in major need of a modern replacement, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society says.

A £10m replacement project has been unveiled today, with Stokesley-based P+HS Architects having been commissioned to design the new structure, the same firm responsible for the award-winning Regional Agricultural Centre and Fodder cafe and shop which both opened on the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate in 2009.

A report to the council as part of a planning application due to be submitted tomorrow explains that the current hall is no longer what customers want or need. The existing venue has an M-shaped roof with concrete pillars running down its length and a low ceiling, eaves and doorways which make exhibiting big machinery indoors at agricultural events impossible while its small lobby offers no shelter for queuing customers in bad weather.

The new hall would be larger and taller, incorporating a spacious glass fronted foyer, a cafe, seminar room and better toilets, and would have a modern ventilation system, insulated walls and solar panels.

Higher ceilings are key, the YAS says, to ensure agricultural shows can take place, to attract sporting events requiring overhead television cameras and to host more indoor show jumping.

The new hall has been designed to make better use of natural light and incorporates a section of dry-stone wall on the front of the building.

Heather Parry, the YAS’s deputy chief executive, said the project is vital: “Hall 1 was originally constructed in the 1960s and expected to last for 20 years so it has been a good Yorkshire investment!”

She added: “Today’s visitors expect higher standards and better facilities than those of 50 years ago.

“Harrogate is already a popular choice for event organisers and we want to make sure it stays up there with the best.

“It is expected that the cost of this building will be in the region of £10m, which is a significant investment but an important one for the financial future of the Society and the local economy.”