'Disastrous' one-way plans for Harrogate's Oatlands Drive scrapped after residents' backlash

Plans to introduce a one-way system on a Harrogate street have been scrapped following a backlash from concerned residents.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 6:33 pm
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 9:28 am
Oatlands Drive, Harrogate. Photo: Anna McIntee.

North Yorkshire County Council had planned the controversial changes for Oatlands Drive as part of a scheme to promote walking and cycling but will now instead introduce a 20mph limit on vehicles.

It follows widespread opposition from residents who warned the one-way system would be "disastrous" for the town and cause congestion, with a petition opposing the plans attracting almost 2,000 signatures.

A council survey also found 57% of respondents were against the scheme, while 38% supported it.

Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access at North Yorkshire County Council, told a meeting today that the one-way system was being scrapped because of the strong response from residents.

He said: "It has become clear from the initial consultation we have recently concluded that the majority of residents are in some cases opposed and in most cases very, vehemently opposed to any idea of creating one-way working on Oatlands Drive.

"The reasons given are many but essentially a common response is that it would mean residents would have a longer journey into town by car.

"That is one reason why we have chosen this scheme because the area is within a mile of the town centre. It was identified, not just by this committee, but by 15,500 responses to the Harrogate congestion study that it is these short journeys into the town centre where we should encourage people to walk or cycle.

"Nevertheless, when we bring forward concrete proposals to create better infrastructure it is obvious there is a great deal of opposition."

The concerns from residents included traffic building up on both Leeds Road and Wetherby Road - especially as St Aidan’s High School sits in the vicinity - and disruption on residential streets.

Councillor Mackenzie said new plans for the area would now be brought forward, including the 20mph limit which would run from York Place to Hookstone Road and also cover the Saints residential area.

There will also be improvements to crossings on York Place and Slingsby Walk, as well as traffic filters on St Hilda’s Road and St Winifred’s Road.

The rejected one-way system was proposed as part of the government's Emergency Active Travel Fund of which North Yorkshire County Council received more than £1m for three schemes to get more people walking and cycling as the town emerges from the pandemic.

The other schemes still going ahead as planned include segregated cycle lanes and improved crossings on the A59 between the town and Knaresborough, as well as the same upgrades plus bike storage in the Victoria Avenue area of Harrogate.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter