Outcry over shake-up of town centre

tis  Harrogate Bus Station.  110302M2a.
tis Harrogate Bus Station. 110302M2a.

A RADICAL shake-up of Harrogate town centre could prove to be a nightmare for local residents, critics of the scheme have said.

County council proposals, revealed exclusively by the Advertiser two weeks ago, would see Station Parade “semi-pedestrianised” and traffic re-routed along Cheltenham Mount and East Parade.

Readers made their feelings clear last week, saying the proposals were a waste of money and would lengthen journey times while merely moving congestion problems around the town.

Now residents of affected streets are weighing into the debate. Lee Russell, whose family lives at Cheltenham Mount, says the council has consulted inadequately on the plans, which would be dangerous to pedestrians and cause house prices to plummet.

“None of your readers would want two lanes of highway put in front of their homes, whether they are in the centre of town, in Killinghall or in Bilton,” he said.

“Nobody I have spoken to understands how this would be an improvement on what we have currently.

“It’s quite upsetting that with such a big change, the first you hear about it is in the local press. I feel like everything is being done quietly and all of a sudden we’ve got one month to comment and it does rely on people being on the ball.

“But there are people that don’t want this and all the local residents are going to fight it.”

He said there were serious concerns over safety, while the area would become far less pleasant if the plans went ahead. “I’ve got two small children who are going to be walking onto the main highway,” he said.

“At the moment this is a lovely place to live, but it’s going to be totally undesirable. Property prices will plummet, there will be fewer parking spots, poor access to houses and increased noise and exhaust pollution.”

He said the £750,000 budget would be better spent on repairing existing roads.

Coun Gareth Dadd, executive member for highways at North Yorkshire County Council, said: “This is a genuine consultation and everything will be taken into consideration.”

He said the scheme would benefit Harrogate by improving traffic flows and suggested that only a vocal minority opposed the plans.

“I’ve got to say that if you’ve had 15 letters now or 30 by the end of this, what’s the footfall of traffic through that area?” he said.

“It must be thousands of people a day. I think sometimes there’s a storm whipped up that doesn’t necessarily exist.”

Highways officer Melisa Burnham said the amount of disabled parking in the town centre would not be reduced by the plans.

The consultation closes on Tuesday, April 18. To respond, go to www.northyorks.gov.uk/harrogatetransport