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Harrogate Gateway Project hit with second petition as opposition mounts

A second petition demanding the Harrogate Gateway project is halted has been delivered to council bosses behind the £10.9m scheme.

A second petition demanding the Harrogate Gateway project is halted has been delivered to council bosses behind the £10.9m scheme. In what marks another sign of growing opposition against the major plans to reshape key parts of the town centre, the petition from Harrogate Residents Association has been backed by 714 signatures and will be debated at a council meeting on 6th January. This comes just days after the results of a latest council-run survey revealed 55% of 1,320 respondents feel ‘negative’ about the project, while 39% feel ‘positive’. The remaining 6% were either ‘neutral’ or said they didn’t know. [caption id="attachment_21945" align="aligncenter" width="833"] How Harrogate's Station Parade would look.[/caption] North Yorkshire County Council – which is leading on the project – declined to comment on the latest petition. It also did not say whether the opposition to the project could mean key parts of it – including the part-time pedestrianisation of James Street and reducing Station Parade to one-lane traffic – are scrapped or changed. In its petition, Harrogate Residents Association said its main concerns are that the proposed road changes would be bad for business and only divert traffic elsewhere – something council bosses have argued against. The residents association said:

“All we need to do is look at Oxford Street, Cambridge Street and Beulah Street to see the detrimental effects pedestrianisation has on shops, businesses and the appearance of our town. “We need a flow of people through the town to support business, not to cut it off. “These visitors bring a substantial amount of income to hospitality and retail without which we fear it would be terribly damaging to the town’s economy.”
[caption id="attachment_21947" align="aligncenter" width="957"] How James Street would look if the Harrogate Gateway project goes ahead.[/caption] The residents association – which previously petitioned against Harrogate’s first Low Traffic Neighbourhood on Beech Grove – also claimed cycle lanes are not the answer to improving sustainable transport. It said:
“We welcome improved cycling provisions across the district to encourage people to walk and cycle, however, what we are opposed to is anything that could have a detrimental impact on our livelihoods, environment, businesses, conference trade and town as a whole “Wholesale introduction of cycle lanes through the town is not necessarily the answer. Harrogate has steep roads and the climate is not always warm and sunny – too often it is cold, windy and wet.”
The petition will be debated at a virtual meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s Harrogate and Knaresborough Area Constituency Committee on 6 January when members of the residents association and council officials are expected to speak. This comes after the Granville Road Area Residents Association previously delivered a petition against the Gateway project to Harrogate Borough Council which is supporting the scheme. As well as changes to James Street and Station Parade, the plans also include improvements to Station Square and the One Arch underpass with the aim of providing better links to the train and bus station. Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access at North Yorkshire County Council, recently said the responses to the latest survey were now being considered before designs are finalised and recommendations are presented to the council’s executive in the New Year. He also argued sustainable transport measures were well supported during the Harrogate Congestion Study – a major survey held in 2019 when thousands of residents said a greener town centre was needed. He said:
“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. “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. “At a time when climate change is a global priority, these proposals will play a part in improving the environment in the town centre by encouraging less use of motor vehicles.”
The Gateway project is being funded by the government’s Transforming Cities Fund, with a deadline for the money to be spent by early 2023. If approved, construction could start in spring 2022. By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.

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