Plans for the future of Harrogate’s former police station have been unveiled for the first time.
Developers, Harrogate Restoration LLP has revealed plans to convert the Grade II listed building on North Park Road into 16 apartments and five houses, with an additional four town houses to be built in the grounds.
Residents at the public meeting spoke of their relief that the site would be restored.
Neighbouring residents, John and Jackie Sedgwick who live on Woodside were impressed with the plans.
Mr Sedgwick said: “I really think it is going to look nice.”
Mrs Sedgewick added: “It is reassuring to see it will be done in such a sympathetic way.
“It is not looking great at the moment and this way it is going to improve the site.”
Harrogate Restoration LLP paid £1.55 million for the landmark site in May last year after it failed reach it’s reserve of £1.9m at an auction in February 2013.
North Yorkshire Police will be paid an additional £350,000 payment if the developers secure planning permission for the site.
The plans will be submitted to Harrogate Borough Council in the next month.
Julian Rooney, a partner at Harrogate Restoration LLP said: “These are the thirteenth version of these plans, we’ve put a lot of thought into it and we wanted to consult the public before we put the plans in, so they knew what was happening.
“There is nothing worse than living next to an empty building and not know what will happen so we hope we have reassured people.
He added: “As soon as we get permission we will start right away.”
The building work is expected to take between 18 months and two years.
Mike Green, a partner at Harrogate Restoration LLP who is also the owner of Gem Construction said: “It is a big intricate job, because of the type of work involved we need a lot of skill sets for the heritage work and restoration.
“We are going to return the facade back to it’s original 1930s glory.
“It is a listed building so there are a lot of restrictions, it is a big scheme for us but we like restoration work.”
Gem Construction, has experience of work on listed buildings and previously worked on Purey Cust in York which overlooks the Minster.
Jon-Paul Wong, managing director of Gem construction said: “You know you have got to get a building right when it sits right across from the York Minster.
“Listed buildings is what we do, we’ve worked on buildings across Yorkshire and we work closely with conservation officers, we know what we are doing.
“This is a lovely building and it is a lot better restoring it than knocking it down and building all new houses.” The illustrative plans show four three-bedroom houses in the main building along with sixteen apartments.
Chris Rushton who lives on neighbouring street Woodside said: “My initial reaction is they have really put some thought into these plans, they still need a bit more detail putting into them, but they look well thought out.”
Helga Rushton added: “The historical aspects of the buildings look like they will be preserved, that was important, especially as it needs to be done sensitively as it is close to the Stray. We need to keep those traditional buildings, we would be losing out if they were to just knock it down.”
The room the public exhibition was held in had no ceiling and interior of the building was dilapidated. Henry Pankhurst from Harrogate’s Civic Society said: “It is disappointing to see it in this state of disrepair. It is going to take quite a bit of money to restore the place.”
“I feel reassured by these plans, there is some new housing but it takes nothing away from the building. This is a good location for people to live.”
Questions were raised on how the developers would be able to meet Harrogate Borough Councils affordable housing target which stands at between 40 per cent to 50 per cent of new developments.
Mr Green explained: “We are still negotiating with the council on the affordable housing numbers, There will be some affordable housing but we don’t know the amount yet, but we have to ask is affordable housing appropriate for a listed building?”
Plans to build four new town houses at the rear of the site caused concern among some residents who felt their gardens will be overlooked.
Mrs Rushton added: “Our main concern is with our house backing onto the development how close will the new houses be to our garden? We are already one metre lower, will our houses be left in the shadows.”
One resident who also lives on Woodside said: “The police were quite quiet as neighbours, I am concerned about how many people who will be living there.
“The new houses are just 20 metres from my garden so my garden is going to be overlooked now.”
Coun Richard Cooper (Con, High Harrogate) attended the meeting on Monday night.
He said: “It was great to see so many people at the event and also to see that the developers were so receptive to the views of local people.
“There seemed to be a lot of support for the plans and relief that the proposals are sensitive to the local area. There remains a concern about the closeness of the proposed houses at the rear of the site to the properties on neighbouring Woodside but I am hopeful that the developers recognise the problem and will work with residents to resolve it.”
Woodside resident, Andrew Fordhen added: “I have no criticism of these plans really, but with the police who moved to their new shiny offices for £20m.
“When we moved in we felt safe next to the police station. Since it has been boarded up it isn’t very nice to be next door.”
Mr Fordhen’s neighbour, Mara Russell-Pavier said: “The police were stupid to sell this place, they have a nice new building up there but it is so far out of town.
“They have neglected the site and neglected the buildings since they left. If the developers do things properly then I will be happy.”
In the mean time the developers are planning to use the site as a permit holders car park. Mr Green explained this was a security measure and would ‘keep the site ticking over’.
He said: “It means there is someone at the site, checking on things, every single day.”
What do you think of the plans? Email Ackrill.News@ypn.co.uk.
Masterplan brings end to uncertain future
The future of the former police station now looks to be secure, however uncertainty and confusion has surrounded the building since North Yorkshire Police moved premises almost two years ago.
Harrogate Police moved to a new £18million police station at Beckwith Knowle (below) in May 2012, leaving the town centre base which dates back to 1931.
The building has stood empty since and shows signs of neglect and vandalism. Initially Harrogate Borough Council had planned to level the building and create a purpose built council headquarters on the site. However these hopes were dashed in September 2012 when English Heritage listed the building. English Heritage described the Old Police Station as: “A good example of a style of architecture known as Queen Anne Revival, designed by the West Riding County Architect Percy Oats Platts.” The listing may have put potential buyers off buying the former police station and the site went to auction in February 2012.
Despite attracting interest from a variety of developers, including one entrepreneur who had plans for a dementia care village in the building the bidding only reached £1.4million, £500,000 short of it’s reserve price and it failed to sell.
Developers Harrogate Restoration LLP then bought the building from North Yorkshire Police in May 2013 for £1.55million and will pay out an additional £350,000 if planning permission is secured.
Harrogate Restoration LLP said it will submit a planning application in the next 28 days and hopes the building work will be completed 18 months to two years after permission is granted.