Today’s decision from the North Yorkshire County Council executive will be followed by a final business case for the controversial scheme which aims to create a more attractive and accessible Harrogate with improved walking and cycling routes.
Construction work could now begin in the spring or summer despite objections from some businesses and residents who say their concerns about impacts on commerce and traffic have not been taken seriously.
Councilor Don Mackenzie, executive member for County Council Access, told a meeting today that the authority had listened to the concerns but he believed they were ‘not at all realistic’ .
He said: “While I welcome the determined participation in the process by various groups, none of them seem to be offering realistic alternative measures to tackle the congestion which, in Harrogate, is the worst of any urban center in our county.
“I am often asked what the County Council’s mandate is for introducing this scheme and I always refer these people to the Harrogate Congestion Study which took place in 2019.
“A total of 15,500 residents decided to respond to this consultation and sent us a very clear message.
This Harrogate A61 upgrade will make congestion worse – Yorkshire Post Letters
“They wanted better measures for walking and cycling, for us to energize public transport and encourage people – especially for short journeys – to get out of their cars and take their bikes, their feet and public transport. commmon.
“I am convinced that the Gateway program does just that.”
Three of Harrogate’s main business groups who have been at the forefront of objections had asked for today’s vote to be postponed after complaints that they had not been made aware of an economic pitch for the project only last week.
Harrogate BID, Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce and Independent Harrogate also said businesses affected by Covid could not endure any more “major disruption and misery” during planned construction work.
David Simister, chief executive of the chamber of commerce, said at today’s meeting: ‘The views of the business community have been continually ignored, as have those of other key organisations, in particular the Harrogate Civic Society, resident organizations and individuals who believe what is being proposed will not bring the expected benefits.
Civil society member Andrew Brown also told today’s meeting that some of the proposals to improve Station Square are ‘poor’ and ‘do not reflect Harrogate’s distinctive character’.
The project is supported by Harrogate Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, with funding from the government’s Transforming Cities Fund.
Similar projects are also planned for Selby and Skipton, and councilors today voted unanimously to approve all three proposals.
A report at today’s meeting said the timelines for completing projects by the original target date of March 2023 have “always been challenging” and that work could continue into 2024.
Plans for Harrogate include:-
– The street will be changed to one-way to create wider sidewalks and a two-way bike lane
– On-street parking on the east side of the street will be removed
– Major changes to Station Parade and Cheltenham Parade junction to encourage walking and cycling
– A new bus lane on Station Parade from Bower Road will be created with the aim of providing faster and more reliable bus journeys
– New traffic lights will be installed to allow a balance between vehicles and cyclists near the bus station
– On-street charging bays and blue badge parking bays will be introduced
– There will also be a wider pedestrian crossing outside Harrogate Station
– A water jet surrounded by tree planting, seating and space for art installations will be built, as well as a flexible space for public events
– Part-time pedestrianization of the east side of James Street will be introduced to create space for trees, planting and seating
-Vehicle access on the street will be controlled by rising bollards
– A loading space for shops is also provided
There will be improvements to the pedestrian and cycle link with new lighting and a more attractive entrance
Station Bridge/Station Avenue/East Parade/North Park Road roundabout
Major changes to the junction to create a Dutch-style roundabout with greater priority for pedestrians and cyclists
A new cycle path to Station Parade
A one-way restriction at the Mount Parade junction to reduce traffic in the area
A new cycle path using the existing underpass.