£10.9m Gateway: Harrogate's 'once in a generation' revamp recommended for approval

The £10.9m Harrogate Gateway project has been recommended for approval at a crunch meeting next Tuesday after months of deliberations and design changes.

By Jacob Webster
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 1:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 1:36 pm
Major plans to regenerate the Station Parade area of Harrogate have been recommended for approval by North Yorkshire County Council.
Major plans to regenerate the Station Parade area of Harrogate have been recommended for approval by North Yorkshire County Council.

North Yorkshire County Council's executive will have a final vote on the project which has not had a smooth ride since first being revealed two years ago and aims to transform key parts of the town centre with better cycling and walking links.

The most controversial parts of the plans include making Station Parade one-lane traffic and a part-time pedestrianisation of James Street.

There are also concerns over the impacts on traffic flow and businesses.

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And despite a latest survey revealing more than half of 1,320 respondents felt negative about the entire project, the council has said it still wants to push ahead with the proposals.

A report to Tuesday's meeting said: "The proposals will have an overall positive impact on the local economy, air quality and the attractiveness, accessibility and safety of the town centre.

"It is therefore considered appropriate that the proposals be taken forward through detailed design and implementation."

The report also said Harrogate' s economy is "facing challenges to its sustainability" and that the Gateway project will deliver on its other aim to increase footfall.

It added traffic modelling showed there may be an 53 second increase in average journeys through the town centre at peak times and that East Parade would be the worst affected street.

This comes after a 714-signature petition calling for the project to be halted was recently rejected in an earlier sign that the council is determined to see the project through.

Harrogate Residents Association delivered the petition earlier this month when the group accused the council of “ploughing ahead” without listening to concerns.

Under the next stages of the project, a final business case will be submitted to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority in May before construction starts later in spring.

The council said it has begun early talks with contractors, although it also admitted the completion deadlines "have always been challenging" and that works may continue into late 2023 or early 2024.

Also included in the plans are upgraded junctions, more cycle lanes and improvements to Station Square as well as the One Arch underpass with better links to the train and bus station.

The proposals are being funded by the government's Transforming Cities Fund, with similar projects being brought forward for Selby and Skipton.

Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access at North Yorkshire County Council, said in a statement: “These proposals represent the biggest investment in Harrogate, Selby and Skipton town centres in decades and aim to increase productivity by making it quicker, easier and safer for people to travel around and connect with economic opportunities.

"We want to encourage more people to travel by foot, bike and public transport because it is good for health and the environment by promoting fitness and reducing congestion.

"The spending will also provide a welcome boost for our town centres after two difficult years of trading during the pandemic."

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter