An exciting £12m project to construct two new event halls for the Harrogate International Centre in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, is nearing completion. Works began on site in August 2010 and are expected to be complete in a matter of weeks.
The Centre has been opened since 1982 and over the years has hosted such prestigious events as the Eurovision Song contest. Indeed, it is the third largest integrated venue in the UK, inferior in size only to the SECC in Glasgow and Alexandra Place in London. Under the project, two additional halls – intended for use as exhibition centres or conference halls – have been constructed in order to cement the Centre’s reputation as one of the most important event facilities in the UK.
Wates Construction have been contracted to complete the build, whilst the Borough Council’s Building Management Team will provide the internal project management and Turner Townsend will provide the external project management. Ingenium Archial are the architects for the £12m project, which was jointly funded by the local authority and Yorkshire Forward.
The two new halls are located to the north east edge of the existing venue, along Springfield Avenue. The new facilities will link directly to the main auditorium and Queen’s Suite, therefore allowing two large scale events to run simultaneously and providing an additional banqueting capacity of 1,800 guests.
Sustainability was key to the project and this was key to the design from the outset; a number of cutting edge features have been incorporated into the design. These include: enhanced insulation levels to reduce energy consumption, sustainably sourced timber, rainwater harvesting for toilet flushing, efficient automatic controls and energy metering, and a CHP engine that burns fish oil in order to generate heat and power for the site. In addition, the halls have a Sedum roof in order to encourage biodiversity. There was a requirement in the contract to achieve BREEAM ‘Very Good’ – however, subject to final approval, the development is on anticipated to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’.
In addition to the two new 1600m² event halls, there are new and improved public areas and public realm improvements along King’s Road, with a new entrance building giving direct access to Queen’s Suite, Hall D, King’s Suite and the new outdoor piazza. An improved street level entrance direct to Hall Q has also been created, along with a 50-space basement car park.
The project was not without its complications, as Simon Bell from Ingenium Archial explains: “The main issue in terms of the building process was that the building completely covers the available site – therefore there is no space around the building to construct. In essence, the below ground car park was constructed, and utilised as a storage and build whilst construction proceeded above.”
The project will not only cement HIC’s reputation as a leader in the events business, but it is also hoped that it will generate business for the local economy. It is estimated that 3-4,000 local jobs are reliant or substantially dependent on business tourism, whilst events at HIC can generate over 300,000 bed nights for local hotels. Indeed, it is estimated that business tourism brings in over £150 million annually to the local economy through visitor and organiser expenditure, with a large proportion of this attributable to events taking place at the HIC.