The Harrogate Area Committee, this morning (16 March 2017), received an update on the possible introduction of a relief road that would cut through the Bilton area of Harrogate. It would allow traffic to move from the Knaresborough Road in Harrogate towards the Ripon Road, near to Killinghall. A number of possible routes have been identified.
Andrew Bainbridge of North Yorkshire County Council Transport gave an update.
A number of groups were given an opportunity to speak, including Zero Carbon Harrogate, Bilton Conservation Group, the Nidd Gorge Community Action Group, the Green Party. A common theme from many that spoke was the consider of other options that would negate the need for the relief road. The Nidd Gorge Community Action Group repeatedly accused the Councillors present in being ignorant and only acting under pressure from developers.
The North Yorkshire Council Transport officer said that the project was in very early stages and that other measures would also be considered with any final solution. Other measures meaning to look at existing traffic management, bus services and cycle routes.
He explained that there intention was to take a number of options to public consultation during 2018.
The consultation would guide their decision but not necessarily dictate the decision as it would be a consultation rather than a vote or referendum. NYCC also took the decision to involve the public early rather than just at the formal consultation stage. Having a relief road would not mean that adjacent, green belt land would be available for housing.
Cllr Simister emphasised that the consultation should be made as straightforward as possible to comment on and include verbal comments where possible.
Following the consultation, a business case would also be needed, clearly identifying the problem that was being solved by a development. That business case would also then go to central government to secure possible funding, a process that could take 12 months.
Cllr Don Mackenzie spoke about the process being in the very early stages and that some had got overly concerned very prematurely.
Cllr Richard Cooper voiced concerns that making additional capacity in any road network was only a short-term solution. That any expansion would provide an increase in capacity that would soon be filled by more vehicles. He said that the only true long-term solution was to look at sustainable transport arrangements with cycling and buses.