Harrogate Station Square as it could look
Harrogate Station Square as it could look

After 3 years and three consultations, it’s decision time on Harrogate Station Gateway.

On 5th May 2023, Councillors of the Harrogate & Knaresborough Area Committee are being asked for their views on the project. Assuming they support it, the Executive will press ahead.

Here are some of the main reasons why Councillors must support Station Gateway.

1) It Will Improve Harrogate as a Place for People

Visualisation of James St, Option C
Visualisation of James St

The key reason Councillors should support Harrogate Station Gateway is that it represents a big improvement to Harrogate as a place for people.

It will make the town centre a far more pleasant place, so it is more attractive to linger, eat, drink and shop.

Making Harrogate above all a place for people is more important than whether it takes drivers a few seconds more or less to travel through the town (often contributing nothing to local businesses).

2) Harrogate Would Lose a £10.9 Million Investment

If the project were halted, instead of benefiting from a big investment, Harrogate would have to hand back the funding.

The money isn’t there to spend on anything at all at North Yorkshire’s discretion. That’s because it comes from the Transforming Cities Fund, which is specifically for:

  • more accessible, affordable and greener transport options
  • connecting people to economic and education opportunities
  • happier and healthier communities for the future

If Councillors rejected the project now, all the work done by the Station Gateway team over 3 years would be wasted.

Future funding would also be at risk, because trust in Harrogate’s ability to deliver a project would be lost.

3) Harrogate Station Gateway Will Be Good for Town Centre Businesses

Graphic showing the benefits of walking & cycling infrastructure and public realm improvements
Graphic showing the benefits of walking & cycling infrastructure and public realm improvements

The evidence is that public realm improvements and active travel infrastructure are good for local businesses. Some might not want the changes beforehand, but they will appreciate the benefits afterwards.

Currently the majority of trips into Harrogate are by car. Harrogate Station Gateway won’t prevent people from continuing to drive into town if they wish, but it will give us other options.

It will improve conditions for those on foot, and enable people to cycle by making it safer.

4) 2019 Congestion Survey

Harrogate Congestion Survey
Harrogate Congestion Survey, walking and cycling answer

In 2019, 15,500 people responded to the Harrogate Congestion Survey, and 77% of us asked for better cycling and walking infrastructure.

The 2019 Survey gives a clear mandate to press ahead with active travel schemes, but since then no progress has been made.

It is easy to be in favour of active travel in theory, but to object to the specific proposals that are put forward. There are always excuses why this particular scheme is not the right one. In truth there’s little difference between those who are supporters of active travel in theory but not in practice, and those who are against active travel full stop.

The time for delay and excuses is over. Councillors must now honour the wishes of the 77% and approve the Station Gateway scheme.

5) Most People Won’t Cycle Unless You Provide Dedicated Infrastructure

66% say it's too dangerous for me to cycle on the roads
66% say it’s too dangerous for me to cycle on the roads

66% of people agree that ‘it’s too dangerous for me to cycle on the roads’.

We want the town centre to be genuinely accessible to all by whatever means of transport they choose. People should be able to cycle into town without fearing for their physical safety.

This includes children, who are not allowed to drive. In places where cycling is safe, children have more independence from an earlier age as opposed to always being reliant on their parents to taxi them around.

Of course Station Gateway isn’t a complete network, but you have to start somewhere.

The project’s active travel infrastructure is designed to high standards, and will demonstrate to local people what is possible. It will lead us to ask for more.

6) Traffic Volumes are Elastic not Fixed

DfT motor vehicle traffic statistics to 2021
DfT motor vehicle traffic statistics to 2021

Many people have the impression that the volume of motor traffic is fixed and must be accommodated. In reality traffic volumes do not stay the same, as the DfT graphic above clearly shows.

‘Predict and provide’ is a strategy that has meant ever-expanding road capacity generating ever more traffic. It is unsustainable. We need to move to ‘vision and validate’ – building for the means of transport that we want people to use.

The Station Gateway team’s work on congestion shows that even in a worst case scenario, and not taking account of any switch to active travel or changes people make to their times of travel, the impact on journey times would be a few seconds in one or two locations.

People can walk or cycle to beat any congestion, or they can get the bus – and that is exactly the aim of Transforming Cities.

7) A Heating Planet

Heatwave, by Guian Bolisay, Licence BY-SA 2.0
Heatwave, by Guian Bolisay, Licence BY-SA 2.0

The UN Secretary General says the world is heading for climate catastrophe. The Earth has just had its 8 warmest years on record and ice is melting at unprecedented rates. Extreme weather events around the world are affecting millions of people and costing billions of pounds.

Temperature records were smashed in Yorkshire during the Summer 2022 heatwave.

York & North Yorkshire LEP has developed a climate strategy for the region, which North Yorkshire Council has endorsed. It is called the Routemap to Carbon Negative, and sets out emissions targets for different sectors.

To achieve the region’s climate goals, the way we travel needs to change as follows:

  • reduce private car miles by 48% by 2030
  • increase walking distance by 40% by 2030 and
  • increase cycling distance by 900% by 2030
Transport goals in the Routemap to Carbon Negative
Transport goals in the Routemap to Carbon Negative

These are very significant changes.

All Councillors should understand the scale of the challenge and be prepared to back meaningful change because it is necessary. It is not good enough to be unaware of the Routemap and the goals it sets.

Request to Councillors

On 5th May, we ask you to do the right thing and approve Harrogate Station Gateway.

Why Harrogate Station Gateway Must Go Ahead

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