Mapped: Concerns raised that new Harrogate relief road will lead to "thousands of new homes"

An aerial image of Bogs Lane
An aerial image of Bogs Lane

Concerns have been raised that a new relief road between Harrogate and Knaresborough could lead to thousands of new homes being built in the area.

In last week's Harrogate Advertiser, Coun Don Mackenzie laid out the four highway options currently being considered by the Relief Road Steering Group.

The county council's cabinet member for Highways stated his preference would be an 'Inner Northern Relief Road' between Harrogate and Knaresborough, joining the Southern Bypass at Thistle Hill.

Coun Mackenzie explained that this option would reduce traffic on Skipton Road and Wetherby Road whilst also limiting vehicle movements through Knaresborough.

Click here to take a look at the ‘Harrogate Relief - Potential Road Corridors’ map. Map: © Crown copyright 2016 Media 051/16

Click here to take a look at the ‘Harrogate Relief - Initial predicted 2035 traffic flow variances - comparing relief road options against no relief road map. Map: © Crown copyright 2016 Media 051/16

However, a Harrogate resident has warned the proposed new highway would lead "massive housing developments" on currently landlocked areas, including the 'Bilton Triangle' and green belt land behind Bogs Lane.

Keith Wilkinson, honorary secretary of the former North Harrogate Residents' Consultative Group, highlighted that both areas had also been put forward for consideration in the draft Local Plan.

He said: "This interesting choice resurrects the route promoted by developers in 1986 to open up large, landlocked areas for massive housing development.

"His so-called ‘Inner Relief Road’ Routes would facilitate what developers failed to achieve in 1986 – several thousand new houses in the Statutory Green Belt and the Bilton Triangle and enormous increases in traffic volumes across the town.

"In the process we would see the ultimate merging of Harrogate with Knaresborough as the fields separating them would be lost.

"What the residents of North Harrogate, Starbeck and Knaresborough make of this grand expansion plan remains to be seen."

Developers and landowners have identified 90 acres in the "Bilton Triangle" and 300 acres in green belt land behind Bogs Lane for housing in the Local Development Proposal Map.

Coun Mackenzie empathised with Mr Wilkinson's concerns but stated that the aim of the relief road was to improve highways infrastructure and make these areas "more sustainable".

He said: "The problem is at the moment we have given planning permission to large scale sites like Penny Pot Lane and Otley Road.

"This permission was granted without the correct road infrastructure present. So, if we can build houses with more sustainable infrastructure then that would be a step forward.

"Our number one priority is to improve the infrastructure of highways in the Harrogate and Knaresborough area because we have not made improvements for decades.

"Whenever you devise a new road you are always going to run the risk that it will attract further development in businesses and homes.

"All of this will need to be taken into account during meetings but our number one priority is to ease the problem of congestion."

A relief road option is expected to be chosen in the "coming months" with the £500k bid for funding from central government expected by the end of next year.