Multi-million pound plan to deliver new gateway for a 'brighter, greener Harrogate’

Harrogate is mounting a multi-million bid to regenerate a key part of the town centre and help hit carbon reductions targets.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 9:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 11:27 pm
Harrogate's train and bus stations could be set for a major redevelopment under plans to provide a new Harrogate Gateway.

If successful, once-in-a-generation changes would include constructing a new segregated cycle path the entire length of Knaresborough Road, moving the short stay car park on Station Parade and creating an ‘iconic gateway’ for visitors to the town.

It would also help tackle the damning statistic that only 0.5% of people currently arrive at Harrogate rail station by bicycle.

Harrogate Train Station could be set for a new look if the funding is provided.

The town’s hopes of a radical transformation of the Station Parade area rest on the result of a bid for part of the Department of Transport’s £1.28 billion fund in parts of North Yorkshire and the wider region to improve productivity andtransport infrastructure.

There is no guarantee that Harrogate will get its share of the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund but bid leaders North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council are confident they have made a very strong case.

Coun Phil Ireland, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for sustainable transport, said the major investment plans were part of a long-held vision for the town.

He said: “We are delighted to have been able to support this significant bid for funding. If approved, it will address some of our key priorities around both sustainable transport and supporting the regeneration of the Station Parade area.”

The funding bid comes as the county council, which is the highways authority for Harrogate, reaffimed its determination to build a new cycle way on Otley Road from Prince of Wales roundabout.

Despite some opposition from residents groups and complications involving taking land from the Stray, Coun Mackenzie said the new path would be built.

The council had been given permission to access the national funds required past the previous March 31 deadline.

If Harrogate’s bid proves a winner when Department of Transport makes it decision on funding in spring time, priority in the Station Parade area would be given to non-car users and major improvements would be made to the quality of public space around Station Gardens.

But Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for access emphasised there would be no actual ban on cars on Station Parade or East Parade.

Harrogate hopes for a better transport hub in its town centre may be wrapped up in the region’s broader aims linked to the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ but its list of proposals which will impact on residents’ daily lives is quite specific.

In coordinating three bids simultaneously (Harrogate, Selby, Skipton; all towns part of the Leeds City Region), North Yorkshire County Council - with the close involvement of Harrogate Borough Council - has had to prepare detailed plans.

The wide-ranging programme seeks to support the delivery of high quality walking and cycling infrastructure, to reallocate road space and to boost public transport provision.

In Harrogate, this would mean improved railway station frontage with better access for pedestrians and cyclists; improved facilities for walking and cycling in the town centre; and improvements to public spaces in the town.

The top five aims are:

* Create “an iconic gateway” for visitors to Harrogate town centre;

* Regenerate shops and businesses in the Station Parade area;

* End the physical divide between Station Parade and the rest of the town centre for people on foot by reconfiguring crossings, changing the layout and moving the short term car park at the railway station - all with the aim of creating easier access for pedestrians from the bus and railway station side of town to the rest of it;

* Support and improve sustainable transport in Harrogate to reduce carbon emissions and reduce car use;

* Construct a new segregated cycle path on both sides of the A59 from Knaresborough via Starbeck level crossing all the way to Victoria Avenue.

Although the plans for Harrogate exhibit a clear intention to reduce car use, the proposals do not involve a ban on cars on Station Parade.

Neither will there be significant changes for motorists on East Parade.

One additional possibility is finding a way to give buses priority on Station Parade.