: Waiting for next track...

: Waiting for next track...

Could pedestrianising parts of Harrogate be on the cards?

Could pedestrianising parts of Harrogate be on the cards?

Published by May Norman with contributions by Local Democracy Reporter Jacob Webster at 5:44am 21st May 2020.

Multi-million pound gateway project clears final hurdle

  • Pedestrianising parts of Harrogate town centre is back up for debate.
  • Councillors are looking at the idea to regenerate key areas of the town.
  • £8m is being invested in new schemes - such as better connecting Station Parade with other streets and improved cycling and walking routes.

A multi-million pound plan to regenerate key parts of Harrogate town centre with improved cycling and walking routes has cleared its final hurdle.

North Yorkshire County Council has accepted almost £8m of government cash to create an eco-friendly ‘gateway’ to the Station Parade area with better links to other parts of the town.

Some parking spaces on James Street will also be removed to make way for wider pavements – and the controversial issue of pedestrianisation has been opened back up for debate, with both borough and county council bosses saying they are still open to the idea of completely blocking off traffic to some town centre areas.

James Street, Harrogate - Google Maps
James Street, Harrogate

It comes after temporary ‘no parking’ rules were introduced in the town centre at the weekend to create more space for social distancing.

The restrictions were met with mixed reactions from shoppers and businesses who will be consulted with before any permanent changes are made.

Phil Ireland, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Transport at Harrogate Borough Council, said:

“What the improvements on James Street and Station Parade eventually look like will depend on business and public consultation.

“The short term, CV-19 social distancing measures recently introduced are different; however, they may enable us to test some potential ideas to help inform retailers about how they want their street to look longer term.

“We will be in touch with businesses shortly to begin discussions on how they feel the improvements should look and will be working on this project closely with NYCC colleagues to get the best possible scheme for Harrogate.”

Station Parade, Google Maps
Station Parade, Harrogate

A total of £7.9m was secured by North Yorkshire County Council in March as part of three simultaneous bids for transport improvements in Harrogate, Selby and Skipton.

The county council will contribute an additional £100,000, whilst contributions from Harrogate Borough Council are yet to be confirmed.

Coun Gareth Dadd, Deputy Leader of North Yorkshire County Council, told a meeting he would feel “more comfortable” about Harrogate Borough Council’s involvement in the project if it confirmed its financial commitment.

Cycle path
Plans include making Harrogate more cycle friendly

Also included in the plans are upgrades to five town centre junctions and traffic signals.

Several cycle lanes will also be created, although plans for a cycle path the entire length of Knaresborough Road have been put on hold.

Sections of Station Parade will be reduced to one lane to make access to the train station and bus station easier.

And cycle storage facilities and electric vehicle charging points could be installed at the train station as part of the project, which is expected to be completed by spring 2023.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for access, Coun Don Mackenzie, described Station Parade as a “difficult” road to upgrade, but added he is confident the changes will make it more accessible.

He said:

“It is a major road which splits in the town in half, which is not really ideal.

“But what the scheme will do is reallocate road space to make it much more cycle friendly and easier to cross over for pedestrians, with narrower roads and less parking.”

Coun Mackenzie said any planned changes to James Street, one of Harrogate’s most expensive shopping streets, are likely to renew controversy.

He said:

“There have been many people who have opposed any additional pedestrianisation of town centre streets.

“Some people feel it is a great idea, whilst others say it would be terribly bad for business.

“But whilst the pedestrianisation of James Street still remains an option, what we are planning now is a reallocation of road space which still allows vehicles to pass through, but giving much more space to cyclists and pedestrians.

“And to do this we are essentially taking away parking space.

“It is a controversial decision, but one taken both by Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council to make the town centre more cycle and pedestrian friendly.”

North Yorkshire County Council county hall
North Yorkshire County Council said it'll work with Harrogate councillors

Coun Mackenzie added:

“All three wards in Harrogate, Selby and Skipton are investing heavily in their town centres.

“Harrogate is a town which is reliant on welcoming visitors to come spend in its shops, restaurants and pubs – and I am delighted we have got this scheme moving forward.”

The programme is financed by the government’s Transforming Cities Fund seeks to support the delivery of improved walking and cycling infrastructure, to reallocate road space and to boost public transport provision.

The financial boost for transport is part of the current move towards devolution in Yorkshire.

As a result of the devolution deal announced between council leaders and the government, West Yorkshire will now have access to a five-year London-style transport fund from 2022/23.

The deals also enable the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to have freedoms available to other mayoral areas to provide further investment to the Transforming Cities Fund schemes.

Selby has accepted £16m from the fund while Skipton will get £5.8m.

Leeds has also seen major works to the front of the city’s rail station and the creation of a 700-space secure cycle parking facility in preparation for HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.

A new bus rapid transit scheme, including 5.5km of new bus lane, connecting East Leeds to the city centre and employment sites is also being created.

In its first five years, the West Yorkshire fund has supported 54 projects, investing over £127m in improved transport infrastructure.

Coun Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:

“Through the Transforming Cities Fund programme, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and partners across the region aim to boost public transport, build high quality infrastructure for people to travel by bike or on foot, helping our recovery from the pandemic and addressing the climate crisis over the longer term.”