Delayed review into cycling and walking schemes for Harrogate's Oatlands Drive to get underway next month

A delayed review which was agreed after a backlash over controversial traffic measures for the Oatlands Drive area in Harrogate is finally set to get underway next month.

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 1:42 pm
Oatlands Drive, Harrogate.

North Yorkshire County Council scrapped its plans to make the street one-way last March when residents described the proposals to promote walking and cycling as "disastrous" before a feasibility study looking at the wider area was agreed.

The study was due to launch last summer, but will now get underway in February after months of delays.

Paul Kelley, who helped set up the St James Drive Neighbourhood Group in the area, said while residents backed some measures including double yellow lines and improved crossings, the main concern was traffic spilling over onto surrounding streets.

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He also accused the county council of previously acting like a "nanny state" and said it was crucial that a full consultation is now held with residents.

He said: "We were genuinely concerned about the overspill of traffic onto surrounding streets as a result of making Oatlands Drive one-way.

"Hopefully when the county council looks at this in February they will bring back the sensible aspects of this plan including double yellow lines on the street and a better crossing near Slingsby Walk.

"But the key thing is that we want a proper consultation. Previous consultations have been ineffective - they are too low profile and the engagement levels are pathetically small.

"Whilst I'm quite sure our councils tick the boxes as far as consultations are concerned, they do it to a minimum level and that is frankly not good enough.

"Without a proper engagement process we are only going to get poor results."

When the plans were first revealed, a one-way traffic system was proposed for Oatlands Drive before it was scrapped and replaced with a 20mph limit and traffic filters.

However, these proposals still caused upset amongst residents who warned the changes would cause disruption on residential streets.

This led to the plans being dropped altogether from the county council's active travel schemes for which it received around £2.5million for projects across North Yorkshire to get more people walking and cycling as the nation emerges from the pandemic.

A common complaint for Oatlands Drive is that parked vehicles prevent the use of cycle lanes near the Stray where there are no double yellow lines.

Harrogate Borough Council has erected no parking signs with a warning of £100 fines in the area, however, the problem remains and there are calls for greater enforcement action.

It is likely that the plans for double yellow lines in the area will be carried forward in the new proposals, although Melisa Burnham, highways manager at the county council, said more details would be revealed in the coming weeks.

She said: "Last year we dropped Oatlands Drive from our active travel fund schemes after listening to public feedback.

"The required timescales as part of the programme did not allow us enough time to consider the impact the scheme would have for road users.

"We are launching a feasibility study in February which will take into account local residents' concerns about access difficulties caused by parked cars, and complaints by cyclists that the advisory cycle lane on the east side of Oatlands Drive is often blocked by vehicles.

"We will be engaging with residents and key stakeholders as part of the study.

"We are committed to delivering a safe, sustainable travel link for all from this side of Harrogate, and recognise that Oatlands Drive is a key link to the town centre."

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter