Councillors agree to Harrogate Stray land swap for new Otley Road cycle path

Harrogate councillors have tonight agreed to using part of the Stray for a new cycle path.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 7:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 1:09 pm
The Otley Road cycle path project was first announced in 2017 but has hit a series of delays.
The Otley Road cycle path project was first announced in 2017 but has hit a series of delays.

The plan is to use some existing footpaths and verges on Otley Road for the cycle lane - but byelaws need to be changed as they are designated as Stray land.

Members of the borough council's cabinet tonight agreed to using the land after nearly 450 responses were sent to a consultation, with almost half of the respondents backing the idea while more than a third were against it.

Councillor Phil Ireland, the council's cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability said: "This amendment of Stray byelaws will enable the county-led scheme to be completed in full to provide a new cycleway on Otley Road.

"Sustainable transport is a key priority for this council and this project does support the promotion of active travel on a main route, joining up the town centre with the west of Harrogate

“This scheme also supports our ambition to see a reduction in congestion, an improvement in air quality and a reduction in carbon emissions, while also promoting a healthy lifestyle.”

The scheme is part of a package of sustainable transport measures for the west of Harrogate which will cost £4.6m once completed.

Before the cycle lane can be built, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government must agree to the amended byelaws.

The Duchy of Lancaster - the ancient body responsible for managing the Stray - must also agree to taking control of a plot of land on Wetherby Road as part of an exchange for the footpaths and verges set to make way for the cycle route.

This is because a historic law protecting the Stray says that if land is given up a suitable plot must be offered in exchange.

More than 80% of the respondents to the survey were in favour of swapping the Wetherby Road land next to the war memorial, while some signalled their support for grass verges on Arthurs Avenue (15%) and St James' Drive (5%).

Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council are working together on the project which was first announced in 2017 but has since hit a series of delays.

North Yorkshire County Council previously said designs for the majority of the cycle route have been completed and that a large part of the project would be finished by the end of the year.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter