Council commits to £13m Harrogate International Centre expansion

Harrogate International Centre’s big plans to expand its conference and exhibition business moved a step closer realisation when Harrogate Borough Council agreed last week to commit £13m to provide new industry standard halls at the HIC.

Venue director Stuart Quin tells conference-news that one of the new halls will be able to accommodate banquets for up to 2,000 and the facilities fully interlinked with the conference centre and existing halls.

“We hope to attack the corporate market as the economy picks up, as well as meeting growing client aspirations,” says Quin who is sure extra business is out there, not least because “our retention rate is higher than most centres”.

Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency, is expected to announce in September how it will assist the council implement the scheme.

If the funding package can be realised, then construction of the new halls, totalling 3,400 square metres, will begin in the spring of 2010 and be available for use by the summer of 2011, says Quin.

The scheme is only the start as far as Quin is concerned. He says we can expect further redevelopment of the older halls to follow, as well as a rebranding. The plans are to be self-financing within 10 years and are not expected to have an impact on council tax.

Quin believes that the HIC is the only venue in the region that can get international business and Council Leader and chair of the HIC board, Councillor Mike Gardner, is convinced this business matters significantly to the town.

“We must continue to invest, as our big city competitors are, to make sure we can continue to offer our customers a competitive and high quality service. Modern flexible space is therefore a must. This investment will help secure that capability.

“HIC is feeling the impact of the current downturn. But a return to more normal trading practice in the next couple of years will mean additional business can be catered for and which will further improve our commercial trading position.”

Business tourism, according to the HIC, provides employment for up to 4,000 people locally.

Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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