James Street set to be new pedestrian zone?

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One of Harrogate’s most exclusive shopping streets could be pedestrianised as the council looks to attract more visitors to the town centre.

Traffic could be blocked from James Street and Princes Street and Station Square (Victoria Gardens) opposite the station improved to create a ‘gateway to visitors arriving by train’.

A report by town planners said that James Street has ‘evolved to become Harrogate’s premier shopping street’ but looks cluttered with parked cars and would benefit from being fully pedestrianised.

However business owners in the town aren’t convinced.

Peter Jesper who chairs Harrogate Chamber of Trade’s town centre retailers group and owns Jespers stationers on the pedestrianised Oxford Street said: “Although we initially welcomes pedestrianisation, our experience in recent years has been poor.

“Shops miss out on the visibility from traffic and as the road is still used for deliveries it doesn’t benefit from markets or activities which are often found on pedestrianised streets.

“We would also lose valuable short stay parking in the town centre.”

Jo Straker, co-owner, William & Victoria Restaurant and Wine bar, Cold Bath Road in Harrogate, said:. “Visitors to Harrogate enjoy the uniqueness of Harrogate’s small independent businesses.

“Pedestrianising James Street and around the war memorial will just force visitors out of the town centre and into retail parks and have a knock on affect to the restaurant scene.”

“Most people don’t like parking in multi-story car parks for various reasons they will just go elsewhere to eat and shop and Harrogate will lose its heart.”

Harrogate Borough Council is asking for feedback on its proposals for the town centre strategy, after just 122 people responded to the first consultation in January.

An exhibition will be at St Peter’s church until Sunday 4 October with documents online until October 16.