What will Gateway project mean for Harrogate and its drivers, walkers and cyclists

Public consultation will begin next week on potentially the biggest shake-up in Harrogate town centre for decades - but what will it mean for the town's future...

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 9:45 am
Gateway project - Harrogate's Station Parade area may become an oasis of walking, cycling and public transport with better links to other parts of the town.

Tomorrow, Friday will see transport authority, North Yorkshire County Council, unveil its formal proposals - and more details - for the Harrogate Gateway project.

The new measures to create a pedestrian and cycle-friendly transport gateway on Station Parade follow a successful bid to the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund by a partnership of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, North Yorkshire County Council, Craven District Council, Harrogate Borough Council and Selby District Council.

The aim is to create a better transport hub in the town centre, introduce new public spaces with better links to the rest of the town and create better access to education and employment sites for the public to boost the economy.

But Coun Don Mackenzie, the county council’s executive member for transport, says he is expecting opposition over some elements of the £7.8 million package of measures.

He said: “I expect there will be a degree of opposition to the proposals, just as there has been to other sustainable travel schemes which have been introduced elsewhere in the town.”

The most contentious part of the proposals for restructuring the heart of Harrogate, which will go to public consultation from the middle of next week, is expected to concern giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists in the new arrangements.

The county council has previously hinted that there could be a reallocation of space on James Street and Station Parade with some, though not all, parking space taken away to create more space for walkers and cyclists.

Most controversially, the pedestrianisation of James Street may also be an option.

In the past the council has also emphasised there would be no actual ban on cars on Station Parade or East Parade.

Coun Mackenzie said: “The county council will be very keen to hear the views of members of the public on the potential changes to Station Parade and James Street.

“The Gateway scheme centred on Station Parade will enhance the area for pedestrians and improve facilities for cycling and public transport.

“But the county council’s highways team is also fully aware of the challenges of introducing these measures whilst ensuring that traffic congestion does not increase on the A61 southbound through the town centre.”

Regeneration of the Station Parade area has long been discussed, with plans initially unveiled in 2015 to create a more pedestrian-friendly space.

Tomorrow. Friday’s online media briefing by North Yorkshire County Council is only the start of a process which, if supported, could see major change happening in Harrogate town centre before the end of 2023.

Next week will see the county council launch a series of online events about the Gateway project where the public can hear more information and ask questions, before completing an online survey.

A potentially pivotal moment for transport in Harrogate town centre, among those attending tomorrow’s briefing will be Coun Phil Ireland, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability, as well as councillors from Selby and Craven, two other parts of North Yorkshire which will be the subject of major Gateway projects of their own as part of the Department of Transport’s nationwide £1.28 billion Transforming Cities Fund.

Long road to door opening on Harrogate's Gateway project: How we got here

As a result of securing a total of £7.8 million for Harrogate, the town’s Station Parade area may finally become an oasis of walking, cycling and public transport with better links to other parts of the town.

Like most of the push for more sustainable transport in Harrogate - and the rest of North Yorkshire - it has not been a speedy journey so far for the Harrogate Gateway project.

The money was secured by North Yorkshire County Council nearly a year ago with the close involvement of Harrogate Borough Council as part of three simultaneous bids for transport improvements in Harrogate, Selby and Skipton.

Selby is to receive £16m from the Transforming Cities Fund while Skipton will get £5.8 million.

But as early as August, 2018 Harrogate Borough Council approved the release of up to £35,000 from its reserves to fund a study into parking in the town centre in readiness for the Gateway project.

And in 2017 there was talk of a redeveloped ‘transport hub’ in Harrogate town centre as part of the then Government’s Local Growth Deal.

When the £7.9 million plans for Harrogate begin public consultation next week they will be only a small part of a bigger picture on transport in town and city centres across England associated with moves toward regional devolution.

As a result of a devolution deal announced between council leaders and the Government last March, West Yorkshire was granted a £317 million, London-style transport fund from 2022-23.

Delegates from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority will be among those attending tomorrow’s media briefing on transport and Harrogate’s Gateway project.

How to find out more about Gateway project

Read all about the new Harrogate Gateway project after Friday’s briefing on this website www.harrogateadvertiser.co.uk

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