Housing developers Persimmon are consulting local residents on changes to the road system at Kingsley Drive and Wreaks Road. Their proposal totally ignores cycling – despite it being crystal clear that, according to government policy, sustainable travel should be the first choice for journeys from new housing developments.
Persimmon’s leaflet shows the area in question, with their housing development depicted as a red and white house.
A further page of their consulation leaflet depicts their proposal to make Kingsley Drive one-way (downhill, north east). Traffic would also be prevented from turning into Wreaks Road, so it doesn’t become a rat run.
The idea that residential streets shouldn’t become rat runs is a good one, but Persimmon has completely failed to think about and provide for cycling. Kingsley Drive is an important bike route between Starbeck and High Harrogate. It is a signed cycle route, so it cannot be closed off to people on bikes without consultation, and must not be closed off to us at all.
Government Policy on Active Travel and Housing Development
Gear Change, the government’s vision for cycling and walking, was published last month. It commits to ‘Actions, not just words’ (p.13).
Theme 2, Putting cycling at the heart of transport, place-making, and health policy, states (p.26), ‘We will ensure that all new housing and business developments are built around making sustainable travel, including cycling and walking, the first choice for journeys.’
It goes on to say:
‘Planning policies should already provide for high quality cycling and walking networks…While many local plans already say the right things, they are not always followed consistently in planning decisions. Developments often do little or nothing meaningful to enable cycling and walking. Sometimes they make cycling and walking provision worse.’Gear change, a bold vision for cycling and walking
That could have been written to describe new housing developments in Harrogate, where there is a dismal failure to provide usable routes (at Pannal, Penny Pot Lane, Harlow Moor Road, and A59 Skipton Road); and it is specifically relevant to this Persimmon proposal, which threatens to destroy an existing good cycle route.
Cycle Infrastructure Design
According to the core principles of the new Cycle Infrastructure Design (Section 4), cycle routes should be coherent, direct, safe, comfortable and attractive. All of these principles would be breached if the Persimmon proposals went ahead, forcing people on bikes to detour via the busy and dangerous A59, or use the pavement on Kingsley Drive.
Section 14 of the same document relates to highways improvements and new developments.
‘New housing development provides a major opportunity to create new and improved cycle infrastructure…Cycling facilities should be regarded as an essential component of the site access and any off-site highway improvements that may be necessary.’Cycle infrastructure design, section 14
The way forward
Persimmon’s proposal needs to be amended as soon as possible, to make provision for cycling in accordance with national policy. There should be a 2-way cycle track on Kingsley Drive; or, as a minimum, a physically-protected contraflow bike lane.
If, as a result of this consultation, the design is not amended then HDCA will lobby NYCC (the local transport authority) to refuse the proposed scheme.