Letter: Town centre plan - Comments from the Civic Society

Harrogate Borough Council's Local Plan
Harrogate Borough Council's Local Plan

Responding to the article last week regarding the Harrogate Town Centre Strategy and Masterplan (HTCS&M), I would like to put forward a few thoughts from the Harrogate Civic Society.

We commented in detail to the Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) public consultation last autumn and also briefly to the exhibitions earlier in 2015. I agree that the Tourist Information Centre would be usefully placed in Station Parade.

A very important part of the Town Centre Strategy is the Transport Hub, a comprehensive redevelopment of the railway station, bus station and adjoining land.

The council published a development brief for this area in 2005, so it is not a new thought. This is the most desirable project in the HTSC&M.

Unfortunately there has been no movement on this of any consequence. It is complicated because funding and agreement is necessary between Network Rail, HBC, NYCC and private developers, etc.

Not so welcome is excessive pedestrianisation, outside eating and drinking areas and performance areas which include around the War Memorial. We do not agree that losing valuable soft landscaping in favour of paving, however high the quality, is the correct way forward.

Let us keep the floral aspect of our town, which HBC parks and gardens do so well to maintain. To see public green spaces paved over is not progress.

Plans in the HTCS&M to improve the soft landscaping on Princes Square are much more to be applauded.

Why pedestrianise James Street and force traffic on a longer route to Station Parade?

The town continues to grow and visitors are encouraged, to the benefit of the economy of course. Convenient places to park for those that have to use a car when visiting are an attraction and our disc parking is excellent.

The public open space at the Victoria Centre was previously an amphitheatre but little used, although attractive architecturally. Now paved over, it is still little used and the idea of taking away most of the remaining soft landscaping on Station Square does notappeal.

The HTCS&M made no reference to public toilets. Why?

We lost the ‘Pier Head’ toilets which were close to the coach drop-off area and the very successful Christmas Market and other events.

The need for such facilities does not diminish. More, not less, provision is required.

Henry Pankhurst

Chairman,

Harrogate Civic Society