Station Parade
Station Parade

Harrogate Station Gateway appears to be changing from a sustainable transport project to a high-traffic scheme.

North Yorkshire Council (NYC) have suggested that the £11 million funding should be spent on increasing motor vehicle traffic in the heart of Harrogate.

The information comes from a report by Karl Battersby, Corporate Director, in advance of an Executive meeting on 19th September 2023.

The report notes that NYC decided to go ahead with Station Gateway on 30th May 2023, but then quashed that decision on 22nd August 2023 after receiving a legal challenge. The council accepted that they should have held a public inquiry in relation to Traffic Regulation Orders.


In his report Mr Battersby sets out the options.

Option 1

The first option involves aiming for more traffic to go along Station Parade faster. The report describes this as ‘better traffic flow through co-ordinated signal timings’.

Option 1 also includes ‘a high-quality pedestrian focussed public realm scheme, with improved access into the bus station’.

A high-quality pedestrian-focused public realm would need to calm and reduce traffic. It is not possible to have a really nice area to linger right next to a dual carriageway. Under Option 1, motor vehicles will continue to dominate and make Station Parade unpleasant.

Further, there are already wide areas of dedicated footway on Station Parade. Presumably the scheme might introduce new paving stones and the odd bench, but none of this will make a meaningful difference to active travel.

Cycle tracks would be scrapped under Option 1, and all the road space kept for motor vehicles.

Option 2

The second option would be ‘to progress with the scheme originally conceived…but having objections considered at a public inquiry or alternatively revisiting some of the TRO proposals, such as not restricting loading hours’.

That would be the right thing to do. Our concern is whether the NYC Executive has the backbone to stand up to a legal challenge and go through with the original scheme.

Option 3

The third option is to cancel the scheme in its entirety.

WYCA and the DfT

The funding came from the DfT’s Transforming Cities Fund (TCF), through West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA). The DfT and WYCA would have to agree any changes to Harrogate Station Gateway.

The report says that WYCA have expressed willingness in principle to see a modified scheme built in Harrogate.

The DfT also indicated initial support for a modified scheme but have not responded formally. The money is supposed to be spent by March 2025, and if the scheme was revised the DfT would have to agree to a new timetable.

If this Transforming Cities scheme were to be stripped of all its transformative elements, would it be worth doing at all? Option 1 amounts to changing the traffic lights and putting down different paving stones on the pedestrian area. The Benefit Cost Ratio of such a scheme is likely to be very low, and we hope that WYCA and the DfT would not agree to it.

TCF Was to Prioritise Sustainable Transport

The original TCF bid letter, signed by NYC Leader Carl Les, said that the purpose of the Transforming Cities Fund was to prioritise those using public transport, walking and cycling.

Paragraph from 2019 TCF bid letter
Paragraph from 2019 TCF bid letter

Among the objectives of the TCF was reducing car trips and increasing cycling.

Objectives of TCF
Objectives of TCF

NYC have a track record of dropping active travel schemes, and cycling schemes in particular.

There is a risk that the Executive will be attracted by what they perceive as the path of least resistance, which might be Option 1.

This would be totally wrong, because Option 1 does not meet any of the TCF objectives. It would be moto-centric business as usual, but with different paving stones.

Harrogate Station Gateway – From Sustainable Transport to High-Traffic Scheme?

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