'Green' town centre plans for Harrogate face new opposition from residents group

As North Yorkshire County Council gets ready to unveil the results of its latest public consultation over the Harrogate Gateway project, the proposals for a greener town centre are facing a new challenge from a group of residents opposed to the entire Government-funded £10.9m scheme.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 11:07 am
Updated Thursday, 25th November 2021, 11:29 am
A new petition has been launched against the cycling and pedestrian-friendly proposals for the Station Parade area of Harrogate.

The recent formation of Gateway Action Group by Granville Road Area Residents Association has been followed swiftly by the launch of a new petition against the cycling and pedestrian-friendly proposals for the Station Parade area of Harrogate.

Called “STOP The Station Gateway Project & the Pedestrianisation of Harrogate’s Town Centre”, the petition hosted by www.38degrees.org.uk and supported by Harrogate residents Association had by yesterday received 716 signatures.

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One major concern raised by some residents is that plans for one-lane traffic on Station Parade will push vehicles into neighbouring residential streets including Granville Road and Mount Parade.

But the leaders of the Gateway project, who will unveil the results of the second major public consultation in the space of 12 months on the proposals shortly, say the concerns are totally unfounded.

North Yorkshire County Council’s corporate director Karl Battersby, said: “Traffic modelling has assessed the potential impact of the proposed changes. We don’t envisage significant impacts on the streets off Cheltenham Parade. The streets where the greatest increases are predicted in the peak hour of the day are Bower Road, with an average increase of two or three vehicles per minute, and Cheltenham Mount, with an average increase of one or two vehicles per minute.”

As a result of the latest skirmish in a running battle over sustainable transport plans for Harrogate, county councillors will now discuss the petition at the Harrogate and Knaresborough area committee on January 6, 2022.

But Coun Don Mackenzie, the county council’s executive member for transport, said what mattered to him most was the results of the public consultation process overall.

He said: “The fact that every single scheme attracts some opposition should not dissuade us from delivering what many thousands of residents have asked us to deliver.”

What Harrogate Gateway project leaders say

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for transport, Coun Don Mackenzie said:

“The fact that every single scheme attracts some opposition should not dissuade us from delivering what many thousands of residents have asked us to deliver.”

"Opponents of our sustainable travel schemes (eg Otley Road cyclepath, Beech Grove LTN, Oatlands Drive Active Travel Fund scheme and now the Gateway project) ask where is our mandate for introducing such changes.

"As I made clear to the Harrogate Chamber at their open meeting two weeks ago, NYCC is acting in accordance with the Harrogate Congestion Study Public Engagement which overwhelming requested that we combat congestion in Harrogate by introducing better facilities for walking and cycling.

"January's Harrogate and Knaresborough area committee of county councillors will see members listening to an introduction by the petitioners, then there will be a debate to decide how to respond.

"This is what happened at the last North Yorkshire County Council ACC meeting when members were unanimous in saying that the Beech Grove Low Traffic Neighbourhood should remain in place."

What residents group say on Harrogate Gateway project

Pedestrianisation has a detrimental effect on shops, businesses and the appearance of Harrogate

The wholesale introduction of cycle lanes through the town is not necessarily the answer to environmental improvements

Gateway plans will force traffic from the town centre into all the surrounding roads

The comments by Harrogate Residents Association's in the Stop Gateway petition online also included:

"We welcome improved cycling provisions across the District, to encouraging people to walk and cycle, however, what we are opposed to is anything that could have a detrimental impact on our livelihoods, our environment, our businesses, our conference trade, and our town as a whole? Wholesale introduction of cycle lanes through the town is not necessarily the answer. Harrogate has steep roads, and the climate is not always warm and sunny…too often it is cold, windy, and wet."

"All we need to do is look at Oxford Street, Cambridge Street and Beulah Street to see the detrimental effects pedestrianisation has on shops, businesses and the appearance of our town. We need a flow of people through the town to support business, not to cut it off."

"This plan proposes drastic changes to the whole of the centre of Harrogate, not only around the Rail and Bus Stations. This will adversely affect every resident in Harrogate. Forcing the traffic from the town centre onto the surrounding roads - RIPON ROAD, LEEDS ROAD, COLD BATH ROAD, SKIPTON ROAD & WETHERBY ROAD."