Further information about Harrogate and Knaresborough congestion

Find out further information of the Harrogate and Knaresborough congestion measures.

In the 1990s, several options for a Harrogate relief road were tested, with a western and northern alignment being adopted as preferred routes, together with a Killinghall bypass. The preferred route of the western and northern bypass routes were subsequently revoked, though much of the alignment of the Killinghall Bypass is retained.

Since then, traffic has grown in Harrogate and Knaresborough town centres resulting in delays and unreliable journey times. Many key routes throughout both towns are either close to or at capacity, particularly at  peak hours.

We believe now is the time to review the problems, and identify the best way forward. Over the past two years, we have been working with consultants WSP to do this.

The strategic objectives of the study and any subsequent measures were to:

  • Support the sustainable growth of Harrogate and Knaresborough in line with national, regional and local policies and plans.
  • Improve the quality of life of local communities.
  • Support sustainable economic growth.
  • Protect and enhance the built and natural environment.
  • Improve east-west connectivity.

Linked to these is a set of 20 specific objectives, which are available on request.

This engagement was used to gather public opinion on the options we have identified through the Harrogate congestion study. Whilst we have worked with a group of ‘key stakeholders’ this was the first opportunity for the wider public to have their say.

We believed the issues in the towns need to be addressed, as they are reducing the quality of life for residents, worsening air quality and limiting growth of the local economy.

Traffic issues in Harrogate and Knaresborough are complex. They are a result of short local trips, longer trips that start or end in the towns, and through traffic. Therefore it is unlikely a single intervention could successfully address the problem.  That is why the indicative Packages have been developed and it is almost certain that, now that this study is progressing further, it will be on the basis of a Package of preferred interventions.

The options have been identified through:

  • Reviewing previously proposed schemes that have not been delivered;
  • Considering existing transport policies and strategies;
  • Working with stakeholders and local authority officers; and
  • Suggestions received from the public.

The measures presented in these two packages are the ones considered most likely to reduce traffic congestion in the towns.

No. The two Packages that were consulted on are indicative, not set, and you were not being asked to make a choice between the two. The purpose of this engagement was to find out what your opinions are on the individual interventions, rather than the Packages as a whole.

While the Packages are indicative it is important to note that the interventions that are only in one Package or the other have been grouped together purposefully; this is because they either complement each other or, in some cases, rely on each other to be successfully delivered.

An example of this is that it is very likely that a Park and Ride facility would only be successful if buses were able to travel into Harrogate more quickly than a car – therefore the ‘Park and Ride’ and ‘Bus Priority on Key Routes’ interventions are only in Package E.

Any future Packages, if they were to be created, would also need to take into account complementary and conflicting interventions.

A relief road for Harrogate was first proposed in the 1990s to reduce traffic congestion. Since then, numerous studies have  looked at the corridor options  and  the traffic relief that could be expected.

The most recent work, undertaken by WSP, continues to show that a new road provides significant potential to reduce traffic, and resulting congestion, on the existing key routes in Harrogate and Knaresborough. However, a relief road in isolation is unlikely to address all the congestion issues (such as the high number of short trips made by car in Harrogate). This is why any new road would be  part of a package that includes other measures.

There is currently no detailed alignment for a relief road. However, historically, more general ‘corridors’ have been considered.

Five of these historical corridors were tested as part of the most recent work, in 2018. All included a Killinghall Bypass, these were:

  • Outer northern;
  • Outer western;
  • Inner south with Bilton link;
  • Inner north; and
  • Inner south without Bilton link.

As a result of this, the outer options and the Inner North option was discounted with the Inner south without Bilton link noted as the most beneficial and deliverable corridor.

Whilst there is currently no detailed design the most appropriate standard is likely to be  a single carriageway road with a 60mph speed limit.

At this stage there has been no detailed Environmental Impact Assessment. This would be done after a preferred package of measure was identified and would be for all the measures, not only the relief road. The environmental assessment would consider positive and negative impacts across  the study area. Where negative impacts are identified, measures will be put in place to appropriately mitigate them.

There is no guarantee the idea of a relief road will progress any further following this engagement. If it were to form part of a wider package to be taken forward, there would be  a lot of development work to be done on all measures  before any proposal could be submitted to the government as part of a funding application.

If the scheme did progress to that point, and was awarded funding, it would still be a significant  time before  a relief road would be finished. At very earliest this is likely to be 7 to 10 years away. Other smaller measures  could  be delivered earlier.

In non-technical terms induced traffic, or more correctly travel as it does not only apply to traffic, is the tendency for people to travel more if it is made easier. If traffic congestion on a road is reduced this makes it easier for people to travel so some people will make trips that they didn’t make before. The impact of this is that some of the congestion reduction benefits will be filled by new trips. Although induced traffic is most usually associated with new road building it is applicable to any congestion reduction however achieved.

At this early stage of development of the Harrogate congestion study no detailed assessment of induced traffic effects has been carried out. The level of induced traffic is very much dependant on local circumstances and travel patterns and there is no clear evidence nationally or internationally that clearly quantify the induced traffic effects. However, some studies suggest that a 10% reduction in traffic on a road network could lead to 2% extra induced traffic.

Part of the reason that we are considering packages of measures is to try and manage the amount of induced traffic by taking some of the capacity feed up on roads by out potential measures to allow better use by for example buses, cyclists or pedestrians.

A number of the interventions are grouped under the heading ‘Demand Management.’ These options all look at the journeys being made (in this case by private vehicles) and consider how they can be managed to lessen their impact. This could mean:

  • Removing journeys altogether – e.g.travel planning with businesses can help to encourage flexible working practices like working from home, meaning  people don’t need to travel.
  • Reducing them – e.g. turning two journeys into one through car sharing or introducing car club vehicles that are shared by many people.
  • Changing the time that people travel – e.g. not allowing goods vehicles into the town centre at the busiest times.
  • Rerouting trips to another, less busy, road – e.g. introducing a congestion charge in a particular area.

Ultimately, yes. If no other way is found to remove traffic from the busiest roads, charging drivers to use them (at certain times of day) is a possibility. This has proven to be  successful in similar places, for example Durham, where there is a charge to drive through the most historic part of the city. Further work would be needed to decide which roads this would include, what types of vehicles (if any) would be exempt, the times and days that the charge would apply and how much the charge would be.

One of the proposals looks at when goods vehicles (including deliveries) can enter the town centre. This is in no way a complete ban. It would limit the times at which these trips can take place, avoiding the busiest periods. Work would be needed to decide which area this would include, when it would apply and what the alternative arrangements would be. We  would work with businesses to ensure there was minimal or no impact to their business operations as a result of implementing restrictions on goods vehicles.

This includes options such as publicity campaigns, personalised journey planning and travel planning. These are often described as being a ‘softer’ approach and are about encouraging people to think about how they travel and the alternatives available. It is most effective in tackling short journeys that are currently made by car.  

Often this type of measure is about making sure people have all the information they need to make an informed choice –from letting them know there is a new bus service or car sharing scheme, to looking at their specific journey and how it could be made.

Yes, we and Harrogate Borough Council are currently developing a parking strategy for Harrogate. The parking proposals considered as part of the Harrogate congestion study are more wide ranging and longer term than those being looked at in the current parking strategy work.

‘Network optimisation’ would mean looking at how we could use new technology to make things flow better. This doesn’t necessarily mean that any intervention would be aimed at improving car traffic flow, but could prioritise other road users (e.g. cyclists or buses) to make them more attractive options. 

The cost depends on which measures form any preferred package. This engagement is the first step towards deciding that.

We have developed indicative costs for each option to enable us to carry out a high-level economic appraisal of costs and benefits. These costs are included in the  Options Assessment Report Addendum. (pdf / 12 MB) However, at this stage, the figures  are based on numerous assumptions and are not finalised. Accurate costings would be calculated as part of any further work to develop options.

If this project is taken forward there is a long way to go before the options would be finalised and potentially delivered. If this does happen, we will seek most of it  from Central Government.

No, absolutely not. This is an early engagement to make sure we have a thorough understanding of public opinion.

Should the study progress there will be further opportunities to comment through additional engagement, at key points in the programme.

Yes, we are committed to ensuring that this is a transparent engagement and an analysis of all comments will be published following completion of the engagement. Anonymised versions of the raw questionnaire data will be available on request.

After collating and analysing the results of this engagement, a decision will be taken to  determine which options, if any, should be developed further.

This decision will be taken by the County Council Executive, using the comments gathered in this engagement.

The project team will host a number of public engagement exhibitions. View details of the public engagement exhibitions.

The potential to improve rail services and infrastructure was considered in the early stages of this study. However because of the cost, timescale, the County Council’s limited ability to deliver improved railways and scale of congestion reduction achievable, it was discounted as an options for this study at an early stage.

This does not mean that the County Council does not actively support rail services in the Harrogate area. We are currently working with Network Rail to develop and fund a £13m scheme which will allow a doubling of trains services from Harrogate to York from 1 train per hour in each direction to two trains per hour in each direction. In recent years we have also funded platform extensions on the Harrogate line to allow longer trains to run and in 1992 we part funded the new railway station at Hornbeam Park.

No. Whilst Transport for the North and Highways England are just about to start a study into the possibility of a major new cross Pennine road this is in no way linked to the possible Harrogate Relief Road. The suggested potential relief road is intended to be a local road catering mainly for local/district wide traffic, and as such, is intended to be a single carriageway. Probably incorporating adjacent pedestrian and cycle routes and is not a major new dual carriageway. The suggested route of the relief road included in this engagement would not be suitable for any major new cross Pennine road.