Respected Harrogate group seeks ‘meaningful dialogue’ on £11.2m Gateway project as North Yorkshire Council meets
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Its latest comments come as councillors on North Yorkshire Council’s executive prepare to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at a meeting on Tuesday, May 30 to the submission of a full business case for the controversial plans.
The decision over the future of a project designed to transform the heart of Harrogate in a more cycle-friendly way follows a hotly-debated meeting of Harrogate and Knaresborough county councillors in early May in favour of progressing the project.
Harrogate Civic Society, which boasts more than 300 members, says it will seek "meaningful dialogue” with the authorities should the executive decide next week to take the Gateway process to its next and final stage.
What that would entail is spelled out clearly in Harrogate Civic Society’s May newsletter where it restates its view that the Gateway proposals would “result in serious damage to the character” of the town centre in their present form.
Harrogate Civic Society on the future of Harrogate Gateway project
Within the established definitions of ‘a Gateway scheme’ and the constraints of the funding package, the civic society would be looking to secure:
Better facilities for pedestrians, disabled drivers and users of mobility scooters.
Vehicular access through the length of James Street, whilst allowing for widened pavements and additional planting.
A reassessment of the treatment of the variety of surfaces to respect the character of the Conservation Area.
A reassessment of the Station Square space, retaining much of the existing attractive features.
Despite voting to support Gateway at the May 5 area constituency committee meeting, Harrogate and Knaresborough councillors also passed a resolution that the “genuine concerns” of residents and business groups in Harrogate be listened to and the potential impact of Gateway on business interests and traffic congestion in Harrogate town centre be subject to a “a rigorous monitoring system”.
Harrogate Civic Society says it is consulting with other groups to establish points of common ground so that, where feasible, a coordinated response can be made to North Yorkshire Council.
Its opposition to large parts of the Gateway proposals is broadly in line with those of residents groups and businesses alarmed by the prospect of the Government-funded project.
Speaking at the May 5 area constituency committee meeting, the civic society said it recognised that some of the plans could enhance the town centre but they only focused on a small area with no indication of being part of a longer-term, integrated traffic policy.
The proposals relating to the northern section of Station Parade are welcomed but the suggested cycle lanes along the remainder of Station Parade are fragmented and confusing; so they will not result in safe, attractive routes for cyclists.
The proposal appears to have been driven by an imperative to introduce cycle lanes wherever possible with limited, if any, consideration being given to the way pedestrians, the users of mobility scooters, and disabled drivers move around the area.
Reducing the main south-bound route through the town centre to a single lane will result in significant tailbacks, increased pollution and potentially gridlock.
It would strongly prefer James Street to remain open to vehicular traffic and to provide on-street parking at all times.
For more information, visit www.harrogatecivicsociety.org