With the future of town and city centres up and down the country currently a hot topic, Tariq Shah OBE, chief executive of property developer Vigo Group, is one of a number of representatives from key organisations in the town working together to plan and shape Harrogate town centre so it is fit for purpose for generations to come.

Harrogate town centre

Tariq said:

“It is well known that across the UK, the future of our town and city centres is a huge talking point as shopping habits change impacting on footfall and the activities that take place within these areas. Understanding the shift in how we buy things, and how that impacts on town centres is vital, and we need to be prepared. The key question for planners and developers, as well as local communities, is how do we adapt and ensure that our central areas can be the vibrant and dynamic places we need them to be for years to come?

“Harrogate town centre faces the same issues as other locations, but it does benefit from having some key fundamentals already in place including good levels of footfall and spending, being an attractive tourist area that people want, and do, visit and having both big retail and smaller independent businesses as part of its offering.

“There are also lots of residential areas close to the centre with great transport links to northern cities like Leeds, but also London, and an amazing array of food and drink options. I believe we can unlock the untapped potential of Harrogate town centre by making it more attractive, for first time buyers and young professionals in particular, to live there. This will create a more vibrant and active place which will benefit everyone and secure its future.

“When it comes to long term planning and thinking about these issues on a local level it’s important that a variety of partners are involved in these discussions and that is also a real strength of Harrogate, as a number of organisations are already open to having these conversations about how we can reimagine town centre usage. North Yorkshire Council, Harrogate Business Improvement District (BID) and local businesses, as well as private developers such as Vigo Group, are coming together to rethink how we can adapt to the changing needs and create sustainable developments and happy and healthy communities. Making the most of what makes Harrogate town centre so distinctive is key to its longevity.”

Vigo Group is currently working on the Trinity House development on Cambridge Street which is due to be finished this Spring and includes two large retail units, creating space for a range of business types. One is already occupied by Body Care, there is a start up business kiosk and at the rear there is additional room for a storage facility for a local business or small dance or yoga studio adding further to the vibrancy in the centre of Harrogate.

On the upper floors there are 14 luxury apartments that will bring people into the commercial centre. The apartments have spacious layouts, a central courtyard, and private balconies.

Added Tariq:

“If we want to retain vibrancy in our retail core then we have to make it more convenient for people to reach. By offering a range of accommodation with retail we are providing that convenience.

“The retail space at Trinity House has a long history in Harrogate and had previously been occupied by River Island and Littlewoods but it was looking tired and in desperate need of some TLC when we purchased it in 2020.

“We were determined to work with partners and create a development that catered to the nuances of the town providing larger retail units, and residential spaces with higher specification and built around landscaped areas. Space is of a premium in Harrogate so making use of wasted upper floors was a key goal and is an approach Harrogate needs to take moving forward in order to maximise space available in the town centre so more people can live and occupy the area.

“In North Yorkshire over 27 per cent of the housing stock* was built before 1919 (England: 21%) and older housing stock is often less well insulated and less energy efficient due to its construction. We fully support North Yorkshire Council’s aims to ensure that all new homes are built to high energy efficiency standards and contribute to net zero ambitions.

“We’re building for the future with more environmentally friendly developments in line this strategy incorporating a number of energy reduction and efficiency initiatives with a fabric first approach in the design elements as well as renewable and low carbon energy solutions such as installing air source heat pumps. This encourages more sustainable living and a vision that provides a better offer for all Harrogate residents and town centre users with more opportunities and jobs to boost the economy.

“It’s not about drastically changing what is here but everyone working together with what we already have to bring clear economic and social benefits and secure our town centre for the next 30 years and beyond.”

*North Yorkshire Council Housing Strategy 2024-2029

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