Councils react to Harrogate business groups' rejection of key parts of £7.9m Gateway project
Local authorities have responded to opposition by key Harrogate business group's to parts of its Gateway project in Station Parade which is seen as crucial to their strategies on carbon emissions and economic prosperity in the town centre..
Coun Don Mackenzie, the county council’s leading transport figure says he remains committed to winning hearts and minds in Harrogate over its ‘Gateway’ plan despite the town’s business leaders opposing central planks of the £7.9 million project funded from the Government's Transforming Cities Fund.
The joint statement from Harrogate Chamber of Commerce, Harrogate BID and Independent Harrogate about the project to regenerate Station Parade and give greater priority to pedestrians and cyclists over cars said it supported the general principles of the project but disagreed with specific ideas.
The key business groups’ biggest counter-proposal would mean creating less space for cars and more rooms for bikes not on Station Parade but East Parade.
It also suggests government money would be better spent enhancing Cambridge Street, rather than Station Parade itself.
Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire Couty Council’s executive member for access said: “The county council notes the comments made by these key organisations, which will be collated alongside the many other responses during our four-week public consultation on the Harrogate Gateway options.
“While I recognise that Cambridge Street is close to the bus and rail stations, any bid for Government funds which did not include improvements to Station Parade would not have been considered acceptable.
“Our bid was successful because it included options which will make the travel centre more accessible to pedestrians, cyclists and will provide much better links to the town centre, to places of education and employment, and give a much-needed boost to the town centre economy.”
Harrogate Borough Council, which worked closely with the county council on the Gateway project's bid for government money, said it looked forward to discussing the options with business groups but said the funding had been predicated precisely on making changes and improvements to Station Parade.
Coun Phil Ireland, Harrogate Borough Council's cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability, said: "We welcome views from all stakeholders and are pleased they are engaging with the process. We look forward to detailing the plans to the BID board tomorrow, Thursday
"This project has been developed taking into account the multiple times residents and stakeholders have told us that they want more sustainable transport provision e.g. the Town centre masterplan consultation, the Harrogate Congestion Study consultation and the Otley Road cycle way consultation.
"We welcome their view that the project will contribute to a net zero town and to create an environment in which today’s businesses can thrive, this is exactly what the Transforming Cities Fund project is all about – creating a town centre fit for the future.
"We recognise that Cambridge Street and other areas are in need of improvement; however, the funding criteria for this project was set by the Department of Transport and is linked to improving access to stations so we had to work within the funding criteria.
"We are always on the lookout for funding and will continue to do so to support the rest of the town centre and other towns/cities in the district.
"Harrogate Borough Council has an adopted a Ultra Low Emission Vehicle strategy and plans are being worked up to roll out a network of charging points, including in Victoria Car Park as part of this project."
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