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135-year-old Harrogate working men's club to be converted into apartments

Monday, 17 June 2024 12:53

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

The High Harrogate Working Men's Club.

A historic Harrogate working men’s club that dates back to 1889 will be converted into apartments after changing drinking habits made the venue financially unviable.

The High Harrogate Working Men’s Club has been part of the local community for more than 130 years and by the middle of the 20th century it had 682 members, including 200 women.

It moved to its current premises on 5 Devonshire Place in 1901 after being established at a nearby public house.

But that history came to an end this month as North Yorkshire Council approved a plan to convert the bar area into two apartments.

It follows two previous applications in 2018 and 2022 to convert other parts of the three-storey building into six apartments.

The most recent approval included a pledge to renovate the bar area of the WMC to secure its future.

It was even announced that the WMC would be modernised and renamed High Harrogate Bar and Lounge with space for judo, pilates and meditation classes.

However, these plans never came to fruition as it was judged that the renovation would cost £750,000, which put off potential buyers and tenants.

Planning documents attached to the application said:

“The costs of the approved refurbishment substantially outweigh the valuation of the completed bar and that any investment would not be protected in the property value should the business not be successful.

“Interested parties have been deterred by the costs of the refurbishment and have not been able to progress a sale beyond the initial enquiries.

"Potential buyers were also unconvinced that the area warrants another new bar when the area is already saturated.”

Working men’s clubs were once hubs of local communities but have been in decline since the 1990s for a variety of reasons.

Deindustrialisation has led to a decline in memberships, they have been seen as less attractive to younger people and more recently, the energy crisis has led to sky-high utility bills.

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