Plans to turn Harborough’s Square into a top outdoor venue

The Harborough by the Sea event is held in The Square.
The Harborough by the Sea event is held in The Square.

Plans have been put forward to turn The Square, in the centre of Market Harborough, into a top outdoor venue.

The Square already hosts a series of events throughout the year - from continental markets to Harborough By The Sea.

But Harborough District Council is aiming to turn it into a regular “outdoor venue” for cultural, community and commercial events, with the aim of having an event every weekend through the summer months by 2020, plus major events throughout the year.

In a ‘vision’ statement the council said: “Market Harborough town centre will be known as a centre for outdoor events, attracting a diverse range of events, drawing a variety of audiences, and achieving a reputation of hosting unique and high quality events.”

At a council executive meeting this week, Cllr Jo Brodrick, the portfolio holder for planning and regeneration, said: “I’m happy to endorse the strategy.

“The current arrangements inhibit our ability to be flexible and respond to public demand.”

The council particularly wants to increase the number of “cultural activities” on The Square.

And of course outside bodies would hire The Square from the council. The council wants to increase income from The Square by 40 per cent by 2020.

To further its plans, the district council aims to take over management of the quarter-acre Square, which is currently the responsibility of Leicestershire County Council.

That will also involve a “change of use” for The Square. It is still officially a “public highway”, from the days when The Square’s war memorial was on a roundabout surrounded by roads in the town centre.

The district council will seek to change the use to “Public Open Space” when they take over responsibility for The Square, making it easier to organise events there.

A council report summed up: “Events on The Square, generally, increase footfall to the town centre, providing a different offer for visitors and more potential customers for the retail businesses in the town.”