The legal challenge focuses on if the Council failed to disclose carbon and climate impact, and if they failed to properly consult and inform residents.
Following the challenge, the council has said that has currently rescinded the decision to proceed with the scheme.
Planning Lawyers have been instructed by Hornbeam Park Developments to challenge the Council’s decision-making, as they say there has been a failure to disclose to consultees documents relating to climate change, and a failure to properly consult upon the Scheme as a result.
The proposed £10.9m package of works will reduce Station Parade to a single lane of traffic along a 300-metre stretch, and will partly pedestrianise James Street. This changed would mean drivers will no longer be use James Street as a cut-through, and would instead be more likely to use the town centre gyratory.
North Yorkshire Council’s corporate director of environment, Karl Battersby, said:
We have received a legal challenge to the executive’s decision to progress the Transforming Cities Fund scheme in Harrogate.
Having taken external advice on the grounds of the challenge and having fully considered the matter, we have rescinded the decision to proceed with the scheme at this stage in order to avoid further costs and time delays.
A further report will be considered by the executive soon, which will set out next steps and timescales for the project in line with legal advice. We will be taking further advice before deciding how best to proceed.
The basis for requesting a Judicial Review:
- As part of its assessment of the Scheme, the Council commissioned a “Climate Change Appraisal”. The Appraisal states that the Scheme is predicted to have a total embodied carbon impact 745 tonnes of CO2. Having taken into account the benefits and disbenefits the Appraisal concludes that the Scheme is predicted to result in an increase in 1,356 tonnes of CO2e over its lifetime.
- This appraisal was not made available during the consultation on the Scheme and was not taken into account by the Council when it decided to go ahead with the Scheme – despite the consultation materials indicating that the Scheme would be beneficial in terms of climate change, the Appraisal actually shows that the Scheme will contribute greenhouse gases throughout its lifetime.
- The Scheme also promotes traffic regulation orders to streets such as James Street. The TROs are subject to public consultation. However, the plan showing the proposals which was published as part of the consultation process to restrict loading on James Street was incorrect.
- There are concerns that the public would not have been able to understand the Council’s intentions and could not therefore properly comment on the affects the order may have.
Furthermore, the nature of TRO affecting James Street should have triggered a public inquiry to be held. However, no such inquiry was scheduled and held before the decision under challenge was made.
Hornbeam Park Developments is owned by Chris Bentley, who owns over 75% of the share capital.
A spokesperson for Hornbeam Park Developments said:
Residents deserve to be fully informed on a major scheme with significant environmental and economic impact on our town. This Judicial Review challenges the decision-making process and lack of crucial information provided to the public as part of previous consultations.
The impact of this disastrous Scheme will be felt across the district, but specifically on the businesses on James Street, and residents nearby. These groups should be confident the correct processes and information was provided to help inform the public. Our investigations show this is not the case, so we are challenging this.
The decision to omit the damning independent analysis into the predicted carbon emissions of this Scheme will contribute during public consultation is shocking. In this climate emergency, information around environmentally damaging schemes should be front-and-centre to help people appraise the Scheme.
Instead, we have a document which states that the reduction of Station Parade to one lane and the part-time pedestrianisation of James Street will reduce general traffic capacity and force drivers onto longer alternative routes – predicted to result in an increase in 1,356 tonnes of CO2e over the project’s lifetime.
Everyone in the town wants to see improvements to the area, but it needs to have a democratic mandate that we can all get behind, and be fully thought through.