OPINION: I fully agree with rejecting call for two-way traffic on Parliament Street and West Park - Don Mackenzie
Last month the North Yorkshire County Council executive agreed unanimously to move forward with the Harrogate Gateway scheme and to draw up detailed plans to reduce Station Parade to one lane. This proposal would create plenty of space to be given over to areas for walking and cycling. Additional elements of the scheme include the introduction of one-way (southbound only) traffic on the northern section of Station Parade beyond Cheltenham Parade and closing part of James Street (east of Princes Street) fully to motorised vehicles,
The outline business case for the Harrogate Gateway was approved by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Investment Committee last week, and the funding was increased from £7.9m to £11m.
An analysis report on the public consultation which took place in April has also been compiled and is due to appear on the WYCA website this week. The progress of the Gateway scheme and the changes it may bring to the A61 southbound through Harrogate town centre have prompted calls for a feasibility study into re-introducing two-way traffic to Parliament Street and West Park. Supporters of a study seek a return to pre-1971 traffic management arrangements.
I am in full agreement with the county council’s highways engineers to reject this call, certainly for now. Our initial estimates put the cost of such a plan at a minimum of £30m.
Whilst some traffic would be taken away from Cheltenham Parade, Station Parade and York Place, the effect on Parliament Street and West Park would likely be very detrimental, and have consequences for congestion, air quality and for the amenity of everyone who currently lives, works and spends time along this corridor.
All parking spaces along the route - among the most popular in town - would probably be lost. I believe that we should now be focusing our attention on delivering the many funded schemes currently underway.
Active Travel Fund
The decision was taken last month for two of the three cycling schemes proposed for Harrogate to proceed towards construction, with a deadline for completion of March 2022. The A59 out of Knaresborough and Victoria Avenue go ahead, whilst the scheme for Oatlands Drive has been dropped because it failed to attract the support of local residents.
LNER and Northern Rail timetable
There is good news for rail users in the Harrogate area for next year. Both of our local train operators are currently asking for our views on their proposals for 2022, and they promise improvements in services.
LNER plans to increase direct trains to London King’s Cross from six to seven every weekday, with an earlier start at 6.35am and a later last train at 6.35pm. I would like to see also a seventh train back to Harrogate. As the proposal stands, the last of the six direct services of the day is at 4.39pm arriving into Harrogate at 7.29pm.
Northern’s plans are even more positive for passengers between Harrogate and York, with a doubling from one to two trains every hour in each direction. This 100% planned increase is made possible by the £10m investment made last year by the county council and North Yorkshire LEP in track and signalling improvements to the line at Cattal.
Government’s National Bus Strategy
The NYCC Executive will be asked next week to approve the recommendation that the county council create an Enhanced Partnership with local bus operators by April 2022. Whilst good, efficient relationships already exist, there are many opportunities for even closer cooperation in order to ensure more frequent and reliable services. An Improvement Plan will have to be published by the end of October in order to be eligible to share in the £3bn available to transport authorities from the National Bus Strategy.