Transport Talk column

Temporary notices at village entrances tell residents the good news.
Temporary notices at village entrances tell residents the good news.

Several readers have questioned why Harrogate Borough Council’s emerging Local Plan fails to take into account work being done by North Yorkshire County Council on the potential to bid for funding for a Harrogate Relief Road (HRR).

At the same time, others suspect that the two councils are colluding in order to create opportunities for residential development between Harrogate and Knaresborough.

The fact is that the Relief Road, estimated to cost around £100m including sustainable transport enhancements, is dependent upon the availability of funding from central government, and that there is, therefore, no guarantee that the infrastructure will be built during the lifetime of the Local Plan (up to 2035), and so cannot be taken into consideration for the Plan.

The HRR Steering Group is made up of councillors and officers of both local authorities who ensure close cooperation between County and Borough. That does not mean that the intended purpose of a Relief Road is to encourage development in a particular area. If it is determined that an addition to our highways infrastructure is needed, then its principal objectives will be to address current and anticipated levels of congestion on our existing roads, to improve east-west connectivity through Harrogate District, and to deal with air quality problems at key junctions. Harrogate Borough Council has recently declared two

more Air Quality Action Areas at Woodlands Junction in Harrogate and York Place in Knaresborough.

I remind readers that the NYCC website features a section dedicated to the progress being made with the HRR. It is updated regularly:

The next meeting of the NYCC Harrogate Area Committee on 31 August at the Cairn Hotel will include updates for elected members on the HRR, and also on Bond End Knaresborough (improving air quality), a highways weight restriction for Boroughbridge, and an update on the plans, now well-advanced, to divert the A59 at Kex Gill. Consultation on preferred route options for that diversion starts soon.

The brand new traffic lights at the three junctions around King’s Road, Parliament Street, Ripon Road are now installed. Signals engineers are monitoring their performance very closely and making timing modifications where necessary to ensure they are working at maximum efficiency.

Northern Rail expect to announce their new 2018 timetables very soon. NYCC’s rail officers responded to the initial proposals for additional services between Knaresborough, Harrogate and Leeds, which would run non-stop to Horsforth, denying the increased frequency to passengers at stations like Hornbeam Park and Pannal. We have asked that at the very least Hornbeam Park be included as a station stop for the additional services, thereby joining forces with other local organisations like the Harrogate Line Supporters’ Group, who are fighting hard for a better deal for passengers. We are cautiously optimistic that Northern Rail will agree to our request.

And now a brief update on our digital infrastructure.

Superfast North Yorkshire (SFNY), an organisation wholly-owned by NYCC, is a few weeks away from the likely award of its Phase 3 contract, worth up to £33m, which will bring superfast broadband (>24Mbps) to those communities in North Yorkshire which do not yet have access to this increasingly essential utility . More than half of all premises in the county would not have been offered high quality broadband by commercial suppliers without SFNY’s support. Since 2012, SFNY’s Phases 1 and 2 have subsidised connections to about 166,000 properties at an average cost of £204 per property, the best value for money achieved by any rural authority. Take-up rates are also much higher than elsewhere, leading to overage re-payments to SFNY which can be re-invested in the project eventually to

connect up all residential and commercial properties in North Yorkshire.

Villages around Harrogate, which have recently been switched on by SFNY include Coneythorpe, Cowthorpe, Dacre Banks, Farnham, Fewston, Flaxby, Huby, Kirkby Overblow, Minskip, North Rigton, Scotton and Sicklinghall.