Harrogate Station Gateway
Harrogate Station Gateway

Councillors of the Harrogate & Knaresborough Area Constituency Committee (HKACC) gave their approval to the Harrogate Station Gateway project at a meeting yesterday.

Peter Lacey (LibDems) put forward a motion supporting Station Gateway provided:

  • concerns raised by individuals (such as those of a balloon shop on Station Parade in relation to loading) are taken into account
  • the HKACC has a meaningful role in the project and
  • there is before and after monitoring of traffic flows and active travel rates

Ten Councillors voted in favour:

  • Monika Slater (LD)
  • Chris Aldred (LD)
  • Peter Lacey (LD)
  • Hannah Gostlow (LD)
  • Philip Broadbank (LD)
  • John Mann (C)
  • Paul Haslam (C)
  • Michael Harrison (C)
  • Sam Gibbs (C)
  • Robert Windass (C)

Three voted against:

  • Matt Walker
  • Mike Schofield
  • Pat Marsh

Green Councillor Arnold Warneken spoke in favour of Gateway but was not allowed to vote because most of his constituency is not in the Harrogate & Knaresborough area.

Public Statements

The meeting began with public statements. We made a statement in favour of Gateway, as did Zero Carbon Harrogate.

A number of public statements were made by opponents of the project, including Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce. They say they are broadly in favour of active travel in theory, but this does not translate into support for specific proposals in practice – and probably never will, whatever the scheme and whatever the timing.

The Chamber of Commerce’s objections includes these, with our answers to their objections in red:

  • Harrogate is too hilly. Many utility cycling trips in Harrogate do not involve significant hills, and electric bikes can take the strain out of climbing.
  • Harrogate has an older population. There are plenty of younger people in Harrogate too. Why shouldn’t families and children have the opportunity to get around safely by bike? And older people can and do cycle too.
  • It is the wrong time for this project. The council should produce more up-to-date data and a complete town plan, the need for Park & Rides should be considered, and a northern relief road should be built. In other words, let’s spend years or decades producing reports and doing nothing. Would the Chamber of Commerce then support a new version of Station Gateway? Probably not.

There was noisy support from 30-odd people in the public room for the speakers who opposed the project, and heckles for those who spoke in support.

Officer Presentations

Council officers Richard Binks, Matthew Roberts and Tania Weston made presentations. The main points were:

  • this will be the first major investment in Harrogate town centre in 30 years
  • the project is aligned with a number of strategies including the local plan and the 2015 town centre masterplan
  • Station Gateway responds to the wishes of the 77% of 15,500 people who asked for better walking and cycling facilities in the 2019 Congestion Survey
  • 79,000 people live within 20 minutes cycle of Harrogate Station
  • the project is about reallocating some road space, not closing Station Parade
  • traffic modelling shows a worst case scenario of 40s extra driving time in the am peak and 53s in the pm peak
  • there have been no objections from any statutory consultees including the emergency services, the AA, and taxi and freight associations
  • the BCR is 1.7
  • Station Gateway would be the hub of an active travel wheel, with more spokes to come
  • it would be awful if Harrogate did nothing

Councillor Contributions

There were positive contributions, notably from Councillors John Mann, Paul Haslam, Michael Harrison, Monika Slater and Hannah Gostlow.

Monika Slater said that Otley Road needs addressing, which is absolutely right. We still need to connect Otley Road via Beech Grove and Victoria Avenue to Station Parade.

Hannah Gostlow said we need a holistic approach and a cultural shift to active travel. Again, that’s right – Station Gateway mustn’t be an isolated facility.

Chris Aldred is a supporter of active travel, and he voted in favour of the motion, but he made some rather worrying comments, suggesting that:

  • an alternative cycle route put forward by one of the opponents of the scheme should be considered and
  • two-way cycle tracks are dangerous

The Route of the Cycle Infrastructure

The fundamental aspects of the cycle infrastructure were up for consideration in the first consultation in February and March 2021. They were then decided. We can’t keep re-litigating the same points.

Also, the route of the cycle tracks should not be determined by opponents of Station Gateway and/or utility cycling. The needs and wishes of suppporters of active travel – who are well-informed about cycle infrastructure and will actually use the facilities – should be the primary consideration.

If the cycle route is determined by people whose motivation is to marginalise cycling or get people on bikes out of the way, the result is very unlikely to be successful.

The Transforming Cities Fund is money to improve sustainable transport access to stations and bus stations, and the cycle infrastructure must comply with Cycle Infrastructure Design LTN 1/20. Broadly, the current route and design does that.

The scheme is not ‘a road to nowhere’. It would link the top of Victoria Avenue to the station, bus station and Asda. It would be useful in itself, but it does need to be part of a complete network and proposed improvements on Victoria Avenue, Beech Grove and Otley Road must be pursued.

Two-Way Cycle Tracks

Two-way cycle tracks are a normal and officially-approved design. There is nothing inherently dangerous about them.

Two-way cycle tracks in LTN 1/20
Two-way cycle tracks in LTN 1/20

They enable cycling.

Councillors are elected representatives and as such they are very much entitled to express their views, but they should accept the national standards set out in Cycle Infrastructure Design, which has been written by experts.

Next Step

Officers will prepare a report on the project, which will be considered by the Executive on 30th May 2023.

The Executive can then decide to submit a full business case in order to draw down the funding.

Harrogate & Knaresborough Councillors Approve Station Gateway

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