The next step toward addressing congestion in and around Harrogate and Knaresborough will be taken next month.
Members of North Yorkshire County Council’s Harrogate Area Committee will be asked for their views on public consultation proposals, with a decision being made by the Corporate Director for Business and Environmental Services (BES) and the BES Executive Members at their meeting on 15 December.
At their meeting on Thursday, 7 December, the Harrogate Area Committee members will consider the findings of a study by the County Council into congestion in the area. The study has investigated the causes and impact of congestion and considered measures to address the problem.
The aim is to improve the quality of life for people living in the area, support sustainable housing and economic growth, protect and enhance the environment and improve east to west connectivity along the A59, as well as helping to improve local air quality.
As a result of significant growth, both town centres are experiencing traffic congestion, extreme at times, leading to delays and unreliable journey times both in the town centre and on surrounding routes.
Growth in housing and employment is forecast to continue, with about 11,700 houses and 20 to 25 hectares of new employment land anticipated by the end of the Local Plan period in 2035. Most of this is to be located within the urban area. Journeys are forecast to reach a peak of more than 27,000, an increase of almost 5,700 on current levels. More than 90 per cent of journeys start and/or end in the Harrogate and Knaresborough urban areas. About half of all trips are wholly within these areas.
While in the shorter term relatively minor improvements to junctions in the towns may offset the impact of these trips, they are unlikely to bring significant improvements or be the longer-term solution to congestion.
The report concludes that the complexity of the area’s traffic issues means they are unlikely to be addressed by a single solution. Therefore, five packages combining a range of measures, including sustainable transport improvements, measures to manage demand on the roads and the construction of a relief road, are being put forward for consideration. There has been no detailed design of relief road alignments, but two inner relief road corridors have been identified as achieving the most benefits.
The Corporate Director and Executive Members will consider the views of the Area Committee when reaching a decision on the next step, which would be a three-month public consultation beginning later in December in which the County Council would invite anyone who lives, works or travels in the Harrogate and Knaresborough areas to give their views on the findings of the report and their preferred solutions.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, said: “We understand people’s concerns about congestion in the town and their desire for action to be taken quickly and we recognise the need to examine large scale improvement to help Harrogate and Knaresborough solve the problems facing the towns now and in the future.
“However, we must ensure that we examine the problem and options thoroughly and that, whatever solution is agreed, we have the strongest possible case to take to government to request funding.
“This is the first important stage towards understanding what the solutions might be. Nothing has yet been decided and in the consultation we will want to hear as wide a range of views as possible on what people think are the best solutions to the problems Harrogate faces now and in the future.
“Congestion is not just a problem for drivers. It affects pedestrians and cyclists, people who live, work and shop in the towns, young and old, parents who have chosen to raise their families in this beautiful place. Everyone has a stake in making the roads easier to use, safer and healthier for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.”
David Bowe, Corporate Director, Business and Environmental Services, said: “This is very much about what all members of the community see as the issues and what they want. These are questions for everyone, because any decisions taken will have a long-term impact on the towns, so we want any consultation to be as inclusive as possible.”
The consultation would be followed by more detailed examination of the preferred options that emerged from the consultation.
More background information about the congestion issues in and around Harrogate and Knaresborough can be found at www.northyorks.gov.uk/take5.