Work starts on centre extension in Harrogate
Work has started on the first phase of a £45m plan to redevelop Harrogate International Centre.
The new £11m extension will include two new event halls, a tree-lined boulevard entrance and an outdoor covered dining area.
Other features will include a total exhibition space of 3,300m, a maximum banqueting capacity for 1,500 guests and an underground car park.
This development is scheduled to be completed by autumn 2011.
It has been funded by the regional development Yorkshire Forward and Harrogate Borough Council.
Harrogate Borough Council said the development, which is being constructed by the Wates Group, would "enhance Harrogate's international reputation as a leading destination for events, whilst visually complementing the town's reputation for beauty".
A ceremony on Tuesday, attended by the Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate councillor Bill Hoult, marked the official start of the building work.
Linda Pollard, deputy chair of Yorkshire Forward, said: "We have invested in these improvements to Harrogate International Centre so that its facilities can continue to compete with other conference centres both nationally and internationally and bring conferences and events to the region.
"It will help safeguard the substantial business tourism economy which has long been a staple feature of the Harrogate district and raise the profile of Yorkshire and Humber as the place to do business."
The second and third phases are dependent on successful funding bids.
Plans for these phases include a new exhibition area and the redevelopment of two halls.