Parliament has approved the temporary suspension of the Stray Act ahead of the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire.
Harrogate is set to host the finish of the second stage of the event, on Saturday, April 29, and the suspension was required in order for spectator events to take place on the Duchy of Lancaster-owned space.
The use of the Stray is regulated by the Harrogate Stray Act 1985, a private Act of Parliament, which gives Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) powers to manage and protect the land to ensure residents and visitors have free access to enjoy the Stray for general recreation.
The Act stipulates that only 3.5 hectares can be enclosed by fencing an area off or having tents or marquees, and the space required to host the event in April exceeds the 3.5 hectares size limit.
Therefore, the council applied to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for the temporary relaxation of some sections of the Stray Act for the area needed.
Between March and May 2016, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) conducted a public consultation on the proposal to temporarily disapply the relevant sections of the Stray Act so that sections of the Stray could be used for a potential spectator hub/fan park and to accommodate the support and media vehicles that are needed to deliver the event.
In November 2016, following consultation and consideration of the statutory conditions, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government decided to lay before Parliament a draft Order to disapply or amend parts of the 1985 Act, for the sole purpose of hosting the Tour de Yorkshire. The draft order was approved on Thursday, January 19.
Coun Michael Harrison, Deputy Leader of HBC said: “This is fantastic news. It is now less than 13 weeks to go before the world’s best cyclists race through the Harrogate district on a course which will end in Harrogate’s town centre, and I know that excitement is beginning to build around the district.
“Events such as the Tour de Yorkshire are extremely popular with residents and a real draw for visitors to our district. The Stray is an ideal location to host such an event, however the process of suspending the Stray Act to allow this to happen is extremely lengthy and bureaucratic, and the decision has come only three months before the Tour de Yorkshire rides into town.”