Harrogate's five most controversial questions for 2022 and why they might be resolved

The future of Harrogate may be in a state of flux right now but that does not mean we don’t have key issues to be settled in 2022.

Friday, 31st December 2021, 9:37 am
New future? It is possible many of the most contentious schemes in Harrogate over the last two or three years may finally be concluded in 2022.

With Harrogate Borough Council facing abolition and an entire new set of county councillors due to be elected in May 2022 in readiness for Northallerton becoming the single new centre of power for all of North Yorkshire the following year, it might be thought major planning decisions in the pipeline might stay there... ignored.

But, not only has North Yorkshire County Council signalled it is unlikely to change direction in key areas like planning and transport schemes when it becomes the unitary authority in 2023, it is very possible many of the most contentious schemes in Harrogate over the last two or three years may finally be concluded in 2022.

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Five key Harrogate topics for 2022

1. Harrogate Spring Water expansion:

After a wrangle already lasting nearly five years over the environmental impact of expansion plans at Rotary Wood on Harlow Hill, the saga took a new twist in January as Harrogate councillors rejected a bigger, revised version of plans which had been granted outline permission in 2017.

This partial victory for campaigners keen to protect biodioversity in the area of the bottling plan appeared to be shortlived when, after accepting the decision, the bottled spa water company announced its intention last summer to submit a new planning application in a matter of weeks.

But a spokesperson for Harrogate Borough Council told the Harrogate Advertiser last week no application has been received so far and no date has even been set for a planning decision.

2. Low Traffic Neighbourhoods:

The introduction in February 2021 of bollards and planters on Beech Grove next to West Park to create Harrogate’s first Low Traffic Neighbourhood for a trial period was followed by complaints, protests and petitions.

North Yorkshire County Council insisted it was part of creating quieter streets where residents feel safer when walking and cycling to help reduce the town’s carbon emissions.

The trial is set to continue until August 2022.

3. Harrogate Convention Centre’s £47 million upgrade:

At a time when the economic impact of the pandemic is being felt on local authorities, as well as businesses, the idea of spending eye-watering sums of money on redeveloping Harrogate Convention Centre to make it fit for 21st century, has raised voices of concern in recent weeks, especially when £1.5 million has already been spent by Harrogate Borough Council on preparing design and feasibility studies and a preliminary business case.

Supporters argue this substantial investment is esssential if the convention centre is to attract big events in a competitive world. A final decision on the project is set to be made by councillors in summer 2022.

A further report to Harrogate council is set to be brought to the council’s cabinet early in the New Year on whether to step on the pedal with the centre’s redevelopment.

4. West Harrogate Parameters Plan:

With the western side of Harrogate from the Otley Road area to Pannal in line to see as many as 4,000 new homes built by 2035, concern from residents’ groups over the impact on traffic and facilities has been raised each time a new plot of land has been identified.

The most recent example is Homes England’s plans for 200 properties at the former police training centre at Pannal Ash.

The argument has always been that salvation will come in the form of the West Harrogate Parameters Plan to identify the infrastructure requirements for the area and how they will be delivered in terms of new schools, local shops, sports facilities, green space and parks, roads and sustainable transport options.

Work was started in 2020 on the West Harrogate Parameters Plan by Harrogate Borough Council working with North Yorkshire County Council and other infrastructure providers.

Parish councils will be relieved to hear the plan is to be revealed in February 2022, though only in draft form.

5. Harrogate Gateway project:

The idea of making Harrogate town centre a nicer place for walkers and cyclists, in particular, in the Station Parade area must have seemed a win-win idea for Gateway project’s leaders North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council.

But the £10.9m scheme, funded by the Government, has run into more opposition as the year has progessed, especially from businesses alarmed at anything that puts people off driving into town.

The Gateway designs are now being revised for a final decision early in the New Year by the county council executive.

If they say yes to the plans, construction work will begin in Spring 2022.