Responding to news of North Yorkshire County Council's decision to hold another public consultation on the Harrogate Gateway project, David Simister, chief executive of Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce, said, while he welcomed the consultation itself, he was worried this may mean work would now be taking place on key town centre streets this winter.
“Whilst we must respect the decision taken earlier this year to press ahead with the Harrogate Station Gateway project," said Mr Simister, "the last thing town centre businesses - particularly those in retail and hospitality - want is major disruption in the run-up to Christmas.
“It’s essential nothing is done to hinder trade in this important period."
after opposition to the plans for a greener town centre have grown over the possible impact on business.
The county council's decision to hold a third public consultation over the Harrogate Gateway project, which is part of a £42m Government-funded programme to deliver more sustainable town centres and better transport hubs in Harrogate, Selby and Skipton, follows growing opposition to the plans to reduce car access in a move towards more walking and new cycle lanes.
A poll of Harrogate businesses conducted jointly in 2021 by Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce, Harrogate BID and Independent Harrogate showed the majority of the approximately 180 out of 900 businesses who took part were against plans to reduce Station Parade to a single carriageway and to permanently close off James Street to traffic.
David Simister, chief executive of Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce, said the details of how the project was carried out would be crucial for businesses in Harrogate town centre.
"I welcome the news that there is going to be further consultation, in particular providing more information on the traffic modelling which was a highly contentious element of the scheme," said Mr Simister.
"But it is vital that if construction work has begun, then everything must be done to minimise any impact it may have.”
“I’m also interested in the materials being used, and how the area in front of Victoria Shopping Centre will look.”
North Yorkshire County Council's Gateway projects are part of the Government's Transforming Cities Fund which aims to create a more attractive entrance to towns with greater priority for pedestrians and cyclists.