A long-held ambition to improve transport links across Harrogate and Yorkshire has been dealt a blow as a legally protected route for a new road was abandoned.
Leading members of North Yorkshire County Council heard there was little alternative to dropping the Harrogate Northern Relief Road route, which had been protected since the 1990s partly to improve travel times between the east and west of the county.
The authority’s executive was told a planning application had been submitted for a housing estate on the preferred route near Knaresborough and the developer intended to appeal if the council tried to protect the route.
Councillors heard as part of an ongoing study into cutting congestion in Harrogate and Knaresborough that the Harrogate Northern Relief Road route would have little effect.
Officers said the study’s finding made it “impossible to win” a legal battle over the land with the developer and attempting to retain the route could see the authority with a £200,000 legal bill.
In addition, officers said there was no alternative route for the relief road in the area that did not involve the demolition of a large number of properties.
Coun Andrew Lee, the authority’s economic development boss, emphasised the move would not affect decisions over the siting of an inner relief road, which has generated controversy due to its proximity to Nidd Gorge.
However, Harrogate member Coun Paul Haslam questioned whether the authority was being “premature” in abandoning the preferred relief road route.
He told the committee: “It is unlikely to be a solution, but if you allow building there it cannot be a solution.”
The council’s business and environmental services director David Bowe replied: “In the 1990s we had evidence and now we have got further evidence that this road is so expensive to build and the benefit to building it would be so little.
After the meeting, executive member Coun Michael Harrison said the council remained committed to creating a bypass at Killinghall.
He said: “This decision doesn’t bring any road-building closer, it removes a line on a map that we’re acknowledging would never be built.”