Town centre plea: Harrogate business leaders call to 'put brakes' on Gateway project
All three of Harrogate's leading business groups have called for the £10.9m Gateway project to be halted as the spectre of another Covid lockdown for traders looms.
Following the negative results of the latest and last public consultation carried out by North Yorkshire County Council over the Government-funded scheme aimed to cut carbon emissions in the Station Parade; the gateway to Harrogate, create a nicer public realm to support shops and give more priority to cyclists and pedestrians over cars, Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce, Harrogate BID and Independent Harrogate issued a joint statement.
During the four-week consultation period launched in October by North Yorkshire County Council, a total of 1,320 online surveys about the Harrogate Gateway project were completed with results - for the first time in the entire saga - showing a majority of 55% to 45% were against the designs for the Government-funded scheme.
But, when asked whether Gateway’s central aim of making it easier and safer to walk or cycle in the Station Parade area would be achieved, a total of 50% agreed as opposed to 23% who disagreed.
The joint statement by Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce, Harrogate BID and Independent Harrogate began:
“The headline comes as no surprise. Despite concerns raised by businesses, the Civic Society and residents who will be directly affected by the proposed scheme, it’s full steam ahead.
“As we have said on many previous occasions that we welcome investment in the town centre and encourage ‘active transport’, and during the first round of consultation we put forward a number of alternative suggestions regarding the cycle lanes, James Street and the A61, which have been disregarded.
“Negative comments are also ignored, and it appears so too are the results of the latest survey, where 55 per cent of the 1302 who participated felt ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’ towards the Station Gateway proposal.
The statement continued:
“In the summer, we conducted our own poll, and the majority of those who responded were against reducing the A61 from Cheltenham Parade to Station Bridge to a single carriageway, and pedestrianising James Street.
“At last month’s Chamber meeting, an overwhelming number of those present were not in favour of the proposals.
“With Covid having had such a massive impact on business, and our hospitality sector once again suffering due to the latest Omicron strain, can our town centre economy endure a further 12-months of disruption to deliver this project?
The statement concluded:
“We ask the County Council to put the brakes on this scheme, take into account our views, and come back with a revised plan that the majority of business and the public will wholeheartedly support.”