The mayor of Harrogate along with other local dignitaries and industry figures attended the official ground-breaking ceremony today for the new halls at the Harrogate International Centre (HIC).
The development is supported in part by regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, which helped fund the £13m expansion plan along with Harrogate Borough Council. The two new halls, due to be completed in autumn 2011, will add a combined 3,300sqm of event space, bringing the total space for the venue up to 19,800sqm.
“We have had a couple of very rough years this year and last year,” says Stuart Quin, managing director of HIC, “so the strong interest in the new hall is quite encouraging.”
Most existing halls are around three and a half metres tall, with hall M standing out with more than eight metres in height.
“Going forward we need halls that can easily accommodate what events are demanding these days,” he says. “There is a tendency for exhibitors to book space only, instead of shell scheme.”
According to Quin, bigger exhibitors who go to multiple shows every year often have prefabricated stands that function as features on the exhibition floor. While these features may fit comfortably in some of the country’s larger venues, HIC’s height and width restrictions can discourage these valuable key exhibitors.
David Tallent, director of G&T events and organiser of tipper-truck exhibition Tip-Ex, says the new halls will be a big improvement on the existing ones, which have restrictive height and width. “From my point of view it’s very exciting,” he says. “Although we do get our trailers and trucks into halls A and B, we have to limit overall height.” He adds that only hall M can comfortably fit the bigger machines involved in the exhibition.