Opus North and Bridges submit planning for Harrogate employment development

Opus North and Bridges Fund Management have submitted a planning application to Harrogate Borough Council to transform a vacant 45-acre strategic site near Harrogate into a high-quality sustainable employment development, Harrogate 47, which has the potential to support 2,000 jobs.

The site, which was acquired by Opus North and Bridges in October 2020, already benefits from an existing planning permission for over half a million square feet of development for employment uses and is allocated as the main strategic employment site in Harrogate Borough Council’s Local Plan, due to its connectivity to the transport network from J47 of the A1(M) in North Yorkshire.

The new planning application includes a comprehensive masterplan for a BREEAM ‘Excellent’, low-carbon development, incorporating over half a million square feet of employment space for office, hi-tech/hybrid and logistics uses, as well as amenity uses, within a well-landscaped environment. This would include up to 130,000 sq ft of office accommodation, circa 75,000 sq ft of high-tech/hybrid starter units and approximately 430,000 sq ft of logistics and warehouse accommodation for mid-box units of varying sizes and styles.

The revised masterplan for Junction 47 makes the most of the site’s setting by providing a high-quality design response, incorporating sustainable features where possible to create a safe and attractive environment for future employees.

The development is key for Harrogate and the wider North Yorkshire economy in providing much-needed new employment land that can accommodate both office and industrial space for occupiers, to meet local, regional and national demand. The proposals align with Harrogate Borough Council’s economic growth objectives of bringing forward land and accommodation for employment use to enable local companies to stay and grow, and of attracting inward investment into the district, including accommodation for the four identified key growth sectors: logistics, creative and digital, financial and professional services, and scientific research and development.

The existing consent allows for the commencement of the site’s enabling works, allowing the installation of the infrastructure to make the site ‘oven ready’ for when the new planning consent is granted and work on the units can start. A contractor will be appointed shortly, allowing the enabling works to commence in the forthcoming weeks.

Ryan Unsworth, Development Director of Opus North, said: “We have been working hard with our appointed consultancy team and key stakeholders since we acquired the site to progress a masterplan that would maximise the job-creating potential of the site whilst addressing current and anticipated regional demand for sustainable office and industrial accommodation. We are confident that our application captures these aspects and look forward to seeing the initial works start on site to facilitate development.”

Guy Bowden, Partner at Bridges Fund Management, said: “As Harrogate 47 is such an important site with immense potential to make a significant economic contribution to the local area, we are keen to maintain momentum and as such are commencing preparatory works. The work being undertaken will ensure that the plots are ready for construction to begin, which could be as early as summer 2021, and our appointed agents are already in detailed discussions with potential occupiers who have expressed an interest in the scheme.”

Oliver Freer from CBRE’s Northern Planning Team, who prepared the planning application, commented: “The new masterplan for Junction 47 responds to the market demand for employment accommodation for office, hi-tech/hybrid and logistics uses in this location, and is in accordance with the land allocation of the site. A successful consent would allow much-needed commercial space to be delivered, enabling local companies to stay and attracting new inward investment into the district, whilst unlocking the potential for some 2000 new local jobs. We are delighted to have worked with Opus and Bridges in preparing this planning application and look forward to working with Harrogate Borough Council and its partners to see the site come forward.”

Opus North is recognised as one of the most active and successful developers in Yorkshire, with extensive development delivery experience. Bridges Fund Management specialises in investing in the transition to a more inclusive and sustainable economy: it supports property solutions that help to reduce emissions, regenerate communities, and revitalise industrial and business spaces.

Appointed industrial agents for Harrogate 47 are CBRE and Gent Visick, with the office enquiries directed to the office agency teams at CBRE and Knight Frank.