This is why Harrogate town centre green shake-up is likely to go to next step

Forty-five parking spaces. That is the difference between the way Harrogate town centre is now and how it would look in the future if pedestrianisation took place, says a new report commissioned by North Yorkshire County Council.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 2:14 pm
Harrogate Gateway consultation - More than half of respondents were positive about proposals for north Station Parade, One Arch, Station Square and East Parade.

The estimated reduction is only one small part of the report under consideration by the county council’s executive next week as it attempts to progress with the controversial £7.9m Gateway project promoting sustainable transport.

The bulk of it analyses the results of recent public consultation on a range of proposed changes for the town centre to be funded by the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund.

It does not make good reading for those traders who fear there will be an impact on business should priority be granted to walking and cycling over cars on the likes of Station Parade and James Street.

What Harrogate public say about £7.9m Gateway proposals

More than half of respondents were positive about proposals for north Station Parade, One Arch, Station Square and East Parade.

For Station Parade, 49% of respondents favoured the one-lane only option for cars as opposed to 27% for the two-lane option.

For James Street, 45% of respondents favoured full pedestrianisation, 17% partial pedestrianisation while 32% wanted to retain full vehicular access.

What North Yorkshire County Council says about £7.9m Gateway proposals

Armed with that information from a detailed online survey, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive committee is being asked to go ahead with undertaking design work on the one-lane option for Station Parade and full pedestrianisation of James Street, followed by further public consultation.

Coun Don Mackenzie, the county council’s executive member for access and transport, said the next steps in the Gateway project would take into account the feedback which had been received.

He said: “The report is quite positive for those who wish to see priority given to sustainable travel. But it is likely there will be a fairly negative reaction on the part of those who wish to see no further restrictions on cars.

“There will, of course, be further consultation on detailed proposals before final decisions are taken.”

What Harrogate Borough Council says about £7.9m Gateway proposals

Harrogate Borough Council has worked hand-in-hand with the county council on the Gateway project as part of bolstering its own drive to cut carbon emissions.

Councillor Phil Ireland, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability, said the report supplied necessary information to create a 21st century travel network for Harrogate town centre.

He said: “It’s positive to see that the proposals for sustainable alternatives to the car, and an improved and exciting public realm, have significant support from residents, businesses and visitors alike.

“The benefit of carrying out a consultation early on in the process is that we have everybody’s feedback and ideas to feed in to the next phase of detailed design work.

“We can now collectively work together, review the feedback, explore our options and design a 21st century travel network that supports economic growth for the region and something people can be proud of.”

What impact would £7.9m Gateway proposals have on parking and car journey times in Harrogate town centre

Key elements of Harrogate’s Gateway project include reallocating road space on Station Parade to pedestrians and cyclists, introducing one-way traffic on Station Parade north of the bus station, closing part or all of James Street to cars and other vehicles, improvements to Station Square and One Arch, and cycle lanes on East Parade.

On the basis of detailed comments received, the key concerns regarding the proposals for Station Parade were based around the potential impacts of increased congestion and the impact on businesses of reduced parking.

Traffic modelling reports estimate that the worst-case congestion scenario of making Station Parade one lane only for cars would see an increase in average journey times across the town centre of 53 seconds per vehicle or 1 minute 14 seconds per vehicle with James Street fully pedestrianised, also.

Partial or full pedestrianisation of James Street would require a reduction in parking spaces, but at this stage it is estimated this would be no more than 45 out of 915 on-street pay and display spaces currently in operation across the town centre.

Currently, at peak occupancy, it is estimated there are 120 on-street spaces unused.

The road towards Gateway proposals

Harrogate Gateway is part of a Government package of £31m from the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) which also includes Selby and Skipton.

These projects are a partnership of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, North Yorkshire County Council, Craven District Council, Harrogate Borough Council and Selby District Council. They are scheduled to be completed by 2023.

Harrogate residents responded in the greatest numbers to the recent Gateway consultation with 1,101 surveys filled in online as compared to 234 Selby and 193 Skipton.

In terms of visit to the Gateway website, Harrogate has 5,217 visits while it was 1,831 for Selby and 912 for Skipton.

Suggestions from public in latest consultation over £7.9m Gateway proposals

Suggestions received in the consultation to be considered by North Yorkshire County Council include:

Review of traffic signal synchronisation within the town centre

Review of space for taxis and improved provision particularly for rear-loading taxis

Opportunities for improvements to Cambridge Street

Loading arrangements for businesses

What happens next for £7.9m Gateway proposals

Although no firm decisions have yet taken place, the direction of travel for the Gateway project seems clear.

Further public consultation will take place in the autumn following the development of detailed designs and a business case.

Subject to a final approval, the aim is for construction to begin by summer next year.

What Harrogate business leaders say about £7.9m Gateway proposals

In a joint statement in response to the latest announcement about the £7.9m Harrogate Gateway Project, Sara Ferguson; Harrogate BID chair, David Simister, Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce CEO; William Woods and Robert Ogden, Independent Harrogate co-founders, said: “All three organisations, which between us represent hundreds of town centre businesses, are disappointed that our collective voices have not been listened to.

“In responding to the consultation, we put forward a number of alternative suggestions that we believe will help Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council achieve their objectives, give cyclists dedicated space away from the main A61 Station Parade, assist pedestrians by making changes to the top end of James Street, give priority to buses arriving and leaving the bus station, and protect the interests of town centre retailers.

“We are also strongly of the view the main gateway into the town centre from the bus and railway stations is Cambridge Street, and it is here that Harrogate Borough Council should be fully focussing its attention.

“Two months ago, Coun Mackenzie shared our concerns about reducing Station Parade to one lane, therefore we are pleased to note more design work and further consultation is to be undertaken on this important issue.

“Coun Ireland says ‘proposals for sustainable alternatives to the car’ have significant support from residents, businesses and visitors alike, yet this is not what we are hearing from the business community, in particular the retailers, many of whom fear what is being proposed will have a hugely damaging effect on their livelihoods, and the town per se.

“Despite many feeling the outcome is already a done deal, we will continue our dialogue with local councillors and officers, as the final outcome will change the face of Harrogate town centre forever.”

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