Feedback from members of the public and businesses is being analysed following the conclusion of a consultation on preliminary designs for proposals to enhance the gateway to Harrogate around the railway and bus stations.
The findings of the consultation have now been published, and proposals will be developed further, taking into account the feedback received. Final recommendations will be presented to North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive in early 2022.
The scheme aims to transform the town’s gateway by boosting public transport and encouraging walking and cycling while upgrading the public realm to improve the experience for people shopping and working in the centre.
The Harrogate scheme is one of three in North Yorkshire funded from the Leeds City Region Transforming Cities Fund, which is helping to transform gateways to towns and cities across the region. Reports of the findings of consultations on schemes for Selby and Skipton will be published shortly. The projects, worth a total of £42m, are being delivered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, North Yorkshire County Council, Craven District Council, Harrogate Borough Council and Selby District Council.
Feedback from an initial consultation earlier supported the principle of the projects in all three towns, so on that basis the authority has taken the designs forward. This latest consultation was about firming up those designs to get the best possible results.
Responses to the Harrogate consultation saw more respondents feeling negative about the proposals (55%) than those feeling positive or neutral (45%). Those who responded positively were highly motivated by benefits for walking and cycling, the better use of public space and making the town centre a more attractive place for residents and visitors.
Many of those who responded negatively to the Gateway proposals were concerned about the impact on traffic flows, congestion, air quality and local businesses, while some local householders expressed the view that vehicles would be diverted on to their residential streets.
North Yorkshire County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said:
The Gateway proposals are consistent with the overwhelming views expressed in the Harrogate Congestion Study public engagement carried out by the County Council in 2019. A record number of responses were received as 15,500 local residents took part.
The clear message sent to us by members of the public then was that they wanted more walking and cycling infrastructure, greater support and use of public transport, and encouragement to leave cars at home when making short journeys. They did not want money spent on new highways like a relief road.
At that time, it was made clear that the best way to combat congestion was to change travel behaviour, to walk, cycle and use public transport more often. We would all have to use our car less often. The Gateway proposals for Harrogate, Selby and Skipton are consistent with those findings.
The Transforming Cities Fund investment is expressly to promote active, sustainable travel, so must be used for that purpose. While doing so, we are taking the opportunity to improve the public realm as much as we can to give a better experience to people shopping and working in the centre.
At a time when climate change is a global priority, these proposals will also play a part in improving the environment in the town centre by encouraging less use of motor vehicles.
I thank all those who responded to the latest round of consultations. Our Transforming Cities Fund team will now prepare a report for the County Council’s Executive and present final plans for approval.
Councillor Phil Ireland, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability, said:
This scheme offers a fantastic opportunity to secure the largest investment in to Harrogate town centre for 30 years, revitalising the town centre for the benefit of residents, visitors and businesses and ensuring that it is sustainable and can respond to changing consumer demands and expectations.
The feedback provided during the course of both public consultations is really important to ensuring that we get the best scheme possible and I am grateful to everyone who took the time to respond.
The full report on the findings of the Harrogate consultation, which ran from 18 October to 12 November, can be read at https://www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/harrogate