Battle lines drawn before Harrogate relief road consultation

Battle lines drawn before Harrogate relief road consultation

Published by Lisa Darvill with contributions by Local Democracy Reporter Stuart Minting at 7:00am 18th January 2019.

People are going to be asked for their views on plans for a relief road near a Harrogate beauty spot. 

The new road is one idea in a range of potential measures to cut congestion in Harrogate and Knaresborough. 

Theses ideas are going to be put out to public consultation after a meeting of senior councillors. 

The meeting heard the consultation would include an option to encourage changes in travel behaviour, more pedestrianised areas in the town centres and higher parking charges.

The alternative consultation option includes many of those interventions, but also features a relief road between the two towns and a bypass for Killinghall.

During the meeting a number of residents raised concerns about the potential relief road. 

Whilst the authority’s executive members set out to allay campaigners’ fears, highlighting that only a consultation exercise was being passed, the residents appeared unconvinced.

Resident Keith Wilkinson, who has campaigned for the protection of Nidd Gorge since 1982, questioned why the environmental and social impacts of the proposals had not been considered.

He said the proposal represented the “exploitation” of green belt and lead to unacceptable damage to the Nidd Gorge.

North Yorkshire County Council's Executive Member for highways, Councillor Don Mackenzie said: 

"While our county, the largest in England, is mainly rural and has one of the lowest population densities of any in the country, there are certain area that do suffer from congestion. Nowhere is this problem greater than in Harrogate and Knaresborough.

"As the highways authority, North Yorkshire County Council has responsibility to address those problems in the traffic. Congestion is bad for business, especially for the economies of towns like Harrogate and Knaresborough that rely on commercial and leisure businesses. It is especially for the local residents who travel around the area and have to spend increasing amounts of time in queues of traffic.

"Congestion is bad for air quality. Standing vehicle emissions is why a town like Knaresborough is host to two Air Quality Action Areas at either end of its High Street."

The consultation is expected to begin in late February and run for ten weeks.