We must tackle congestion
Thank you for highlighting in the ‘Advertiser (December 26) the impact on the town’s road network of the 4,500 new homes proposed in the draft local plan. You report that eight “key” junctions in Harrogate and Knaresborough have been earmarked for improvements totalling over £1m. However, readers should be aware that, despite this investment, congestion on the road network in Harrogate and Knaresborough is forecast to get worse by the end of the local plan period (2024).
The Strategic Traffic Assessment Report which accompanies the draft local plan submitted to the Secretary of State shows that, even after taking account of the road improvements, six junctions will operate beyond their absolute capacity and a further nine junctions will exceed their practical capacity. The Skipton Road/Otley Road junction, for example, despite the £150,000 improvement earmarked, is forecast to be well over capacity by year 2024. Currently it operates below capacity.
Four of the eight “key“ junctions lie along Otley Road. I welcome the proposal to include £230,000 to upgrade the mini roundabout at Beckwithshaw to a normal roundabout as this will achieve significant traffic and safety improvements. However, the report shows that the direct impact of 680 houses at Cardale Park West together with traffic generation from other sites west of Harrogate will give rise to significant capacity problems along the length of Otley Road, despite the improvements listed.
Traffic congestion is bad for the local economy, the environment and society. Some might argue that this is a price we have to pay for getting houses built in a period of tough financial constraints for local government. I say that we need more ambitious forward thinking, like that shown in the promotion of the Harrogate rail line scheme, to develop effective infrastructure so that congestion is tackled alongside housing growth over the next decade and beyond.
Coun David Siddans
Yew Tree Lane, Harrogate