Controversial Oatlands Drive cycle path plan faces being delayed - or dropped - in Harrogate

New doubts have been thrown over the push to give cycling and walking more priority in the Oatlands Drive area of Harrogate after a recommendation not to proceed with the idea as part of the Government's Active Travel Fund programme.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 5:20 pm
Oatlands Drive in Harrogate.

Highways authority North Yorkshire County Council, which secured more than £1 million from the Government for a series of new major cycle paths in a switch to sustainable transport, has decided to drop the Oatlands part after a furious reaction from some residents and business groups who were worried it would make clog up certain roads with more cars.

County councillors are now being recommended to progress three schemes aimed at enhancing facilities for cyclists and pedestrians across Harrogate and Whitby.

But a new feasibility study in the Oatlands Drive area encompassing wider considerations may now take place later in the year.

Kevin Douglas, chairman of Harrogate District Cycle Action, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he was "disappointed" but "not surprised" to hear the Oatlands Drive scheme looks set to be scrapped.

He said: "The revised scheme had quite a few difficulties and we felt it was never necessarily going to be one that worked.

"There was never going to be a perfect scheme for this area which is quite a difficult one, and I do sympathise with the council in coming up with these plans because they will never please everyone.

"I hope if they are going to take another local look at this they will involve schools, bus providers and residents who need to get their views across."

North Yorkshire County Council had received £1,011,750 from the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund to improve the infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.

The grant, which must be spent during the 2021/22 financial year, is earmarked to fund work along a number of corridors to improve access to the town centres for cyclists and pedestrians, allowing for more space for social distancing.

Following the second round of public consultation, the schemes recommended for further appraisal and design are:

A59 (Harrogate Road, Knaresborough) between Badger Mount and Maple Close;

Victoria Avenue, Harrogate, near the County Court, between the A61 (West Park) and Station Parade;

Guisborough Road and Mayfield Road, Whitby.

If approved the Oatlands Drive scheme would not proceed through the Active Travel Fund but instead an Oatlands Constituency Feasibility Study would be commissioned to reassess opportunities for improvements across a wider area than the current Active Travel Fund scheme allows.

Melisa Burnham, Highways Area Manager, said: “The Oatlands Drive proposals saw a mix of support and objections and as result of the timescales identified within the Active Travel Fund programme this has not allowed us to consider the impact for all users sufficiently.

“Our long-term vision is to be able to provide a safe, sustainable travel link for all from this side of Harrogate, recognising the key links from Harrogate Showground, Hornbeam Park and the secondary schools into the town centre, complementing projects such as Transforming Cities and the Victoria Avenue Active Travel Fund.

“We need to explore what the impact of options will have on all users of the network and the feasibility study will allow us to do this through further conversations with transport provides, user groups and traffic modelling analysis.”

Some of the savings made by dropping this scheme would be used to investigate and deliver an extended Whitby scheme along Mayfield Road.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “I am grateful to all those residents who made the effort to respond to our recent consultation on the proposals for the four schemes. We received thousands of views and many attended our public meetings too.

"The three schemes recommended to be taken forward were generally well received by residents.

"The Oatlands Drive scheme, however, and in particular the one-way filters for motorised vehicles, proved less popular and many local residents expressed their opposition.

"Since a condition of the Active Travel Fund is that each scheme should have public support, it is recommended that the Oatlands Drive proposal be withdrawn.

"The work done so far on this scheme will not be wasted since it has highlighted opportunities to deliver improvements more widely in that area.

"That is why it is proposed to carry out a feasibility study focused on the Oatlands area later this year."

The recommendations will be considered at a meeting of the County Council’s Business and Environmental Services Executive Members on Friday, May 21.

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