Mixed reaction to end of Harrogate's first low traffic neighbourhood

An announcement that Harrogate's first low traffic neighbourhood will end on 14 August has been met with a mixed reaction from residents and campaigners.

By Jacob Webster
Saturday, 6th August 2022, 8:52 am
Updated Saturday, 6th August 2022, 9:39 am
The bollards will be removed on 14 August after 18 months of measures to create quieter streets.
The bollards will be removed on 14 August after 18 months of measures to create quieter streets.

There has been joy and dismay over the end of the trial measures on Beech Grove - but those on both sides of the argument are unanimous in their view that North Yorkshire County Council has failed to properly consult with the public.

Kevin Douglas, chairman of Harrogate District Cycle Action, said the traffic restrictions have been a success in creating quieter streets for walking and cycling, and that he wanted to see more introduced in the town.

However, he added he was "disappointed" that a decision to end the measures was made without input from residents and campaigners.

He said: "At the last minute - without any warning to anybody - the council realised the traffic order was running out so they had to remove it.

"Saying you will hold consultations is all well and good, but when it came to it we were just told the decision had already been made. It is very disappointing."

The low traffic neighbourhood was the first of its kind in North Yorkshire when it was introduced in February 2021 and has seen bollards used to restrict through traffic on Beech Grove and Lancaster Road.

The county council itself has admitted the trial has been controversial and is now planning to consult on new permanent traffic measures in the area.

Anna McIntee, who stood in the May local elections as an independent and petitioned against the low traffic neighbourhood, said it was crucial that the authority listened to all feedback before making any decisions.

She said: "We have seen here in Harrogate, and up and down the country, that low traffic neighbourhoods have been unsuccessful and we trust the councils are now listening to the people and hope that the removal of this will remain permanent.

"Harrogate Residents Association received over 600 signatures on their petition against it in less than a week, and 780 signatures in total.

"We presented this to the council last year and were ignored.

"Going forward, we hope this will not happen again and the council will engage with residents and businesses before implementing any further other schemes, especially the Station Gateway project."

The low traffic neighbourhood was initially introduced on a six-month basis, but this was extended by a further 12 months.

It required a traffic order which the county council said must be legally removed.

Councillor Keane Duncan, executive member for highways and transport, said the authority would now go out to consultation in September "to ensure we are developing the most effective possible plan for this area".

He said: "We have received significant feedback – positive and negative – and we’ve learnt a lot over the past 18 months.

"We know that more people are now using this route to walk and cycle, which is encouraging and in line with our aim of promoting sustainable travel.

"However, we are also aware of negative impacts affecting those living nearby.

"Now the trial period is over, it is only right that we review in detail what’s worked and what could work better."

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter