Visualising Harrogate's future: will new designs of Gateway plans for town centre include contentious options
New plans to dramatically transform Harrogate town centre are to be unveiled as part of the £10.9 million Gateway project which has divided opinion in the town.
The next stage of this major ‘green’ initiative will see detailed designs revealed to the public on Monday following earlier feedback showing business opposition to key parts of the plan.
Although project leaders North Yorkshire County Council say no firm decisions will be taken on the Gateway project until the latest phase of public consultation has been completed, the Harrogate Advertiser understands the latest designs will feature some of the most contentious aspects.
In particular, the options to reduce Station Parade to one lane in front of the bus and rail stations and to pedestrianise at least part of James Street are expected to be included.
After a mixed reaction to some of the most radical options in the £10.9m Gateway project, supported by the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund, the project’s champions say they have listened to concerns from parts of the business world and the wider community.
The public will now get their first look at the revised version of the plans for transforming the Station Parade areas of Harrogate in the next phase of public consultation which will be launched online next Monday.
Coun Don Mackenzie, executive member for transport and access at North Yorkshire County Council, said: “We listened to the feedback from the consultations earlier this year and have taken that into account in the further development of the designs.
“We are keen for residents to tell us how well the revised designs meet the objectives of opening up the town’s gateway to facilitate and encourage cycling and walking and improve the quality of the location.
“People can help to define the final look of the scheme by giving their views on details such as benches and planting.”
While previous public surveys have shown general support for the idea of boosting public transport, encouraging sustainable travel and upgrading the public realm for residents and visitors in the town centre, when it comes to the practicalities splits have emerged in the town.
The revised Gateway plans come after negative feedback from some anxious business owners in recent months over some of the changes envisaged.
A spokesperson for North Yorkshire County Council said this week that feedback from the earlier consultation has been taken into account when looking at the options for one lane in Station Parade and pedestrianisation of James Street, as well as the detailed layout of Station Square and the balance of parking, loading and taxi space provision within the gateway area.
But the Harrogate Advertiser understands the latest designs are still likely to contain some of these most contentious ideas for boosting sustainable transport.
Businesses themselves will get the chance to quiz the Gateway team early next month thanks to Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce.
The group’s next meeting on November 8 at the Cedar Court Hotel will see members of the Gateway team giving a presentation and answering questions with business people face to face.
With divisions still running deep on the details of the scheme, Gateway’s backers say it is important the town stays engaged in the process.
Coun Phil Ireland, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability, said: “We want to ensure the project provides an exciting and attractive gateway to Harrogate town centre.
“Listening to residents’ feedback provides valuable insight into achieving these aims.
“Now is the time focus our attention on the finer details of the scheme, I’d urge everyone to get involved.”
The Harrogate Gateway project is just one part of a series of similar Government-backed Transforming Cities Fund projects in towns across England.
In North Yorkshire the initiative also involves Skipton and Selby - delivered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, North Yorkshire County Council, Craven District Council, Harrogate Borough Council and Selby District Council.
It is estimated TCF schemes will improve journeys by bus, rail, bike and on foot for up to 1.5 million people, take up to 12 million car trips per year off roads and cut CO2 emissions from cars by up to 15,000 tonnes by 2036.