A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers
As someone who gets around town a bit, the Kingsley/Bogs Lane area near Starbeck and the Nidd Gorge area, in my opinion is fast becoming the worst urban area in all of Harrogate in terms of the sheer numbers of new houses being built.
Having endured dust, dirt, roadworks and road closures for more than seven months, the reward for the residents who already live in this part of town has been to see two developments mushroom, potentially, to five.
When it’s not the builders setting up shop, it’s the utility companies installing vital infrastructure to supply hundreds, possibly, thousands of new residents.
No wonder the initially quiet householders of the area have now become so vocal in their complaints.
Other areas are being hit hard, too, particularly on the western side around Otley Road and in Killinghall and Pannal, not to forget parts of Ripon, Knaresborough, Pateley Bridge - the list goes on and on...
But in terms of urban areas, Kingsley/Bogs Lane has no rivals in Harrogate. Squeezed tight against Knaresborough Road and its frustrating traffic jams, the last traces of spaces are about to disappear.
Once every square bit of land is covered in bricks and mortar, the area’s narrow roads will then be full to the brim with cars feeding into the afore-mentioned Knaresborough Road.
As per usual in these times, it’s not easy to put your finger on a single culprit.
Is it the developers who want to build houses wherever they know they can get a good price?
Or Harrogate Borough Council for accepting the spread of housing with scarcely a murmur?
Perhaps, the blame lies with the national government which has set the rules and targets and provides the spur to act?
I’m certain that some people would have complained about new houses being built in the Victorian era duringHarrogate’s first big expansion of its population - but this still feels like a historic mistake.
Where were you when the heavens opened up on Friday evening?
So bad was the weather for a straight 24 hours that, when I ran along the lovely Waterside in Knaresborough on a sodden Saturday afternoon, I didn’t pass a single soul.
And this was during the town’s popular arts festival feva at the height of summer.
I was lucky when the deluge began. I was tucked up safely inside the North Bar in Harrogate.
Looking out through the rain-soaked windows of this popular watering hole, it felt good to be inside weathering the storm.
Nursing a pint in the dry and warmth, it was nice to be in this exact place under a dark sky.
As the thunder rumbled outside, I began to imagine that, perhaps, Harrogate as a whole would also escape the battering of the era we live in.
But the problems of Harrogate town centre probably won’t simply evaporate with a little positive thinking.
It’s been 19 months since more than 100 independent traders and movers and shakers from the arts scene met at Major Tom’s bar to discuss ideas to push their cause for the good of the whole town.
As of yet, there has been no ‘Independents day’ in Harrogate or even a shared independents logo in shop windows.
Sadly, talking is the easy part...