Possible next steps on Harrogate congestion

This story was published 20 August 2019

Following analysis of feedback received during a 12-week public engagement, the next steps in tackling congestion in Harrogate and Knaresborough will be discussed by county councillors for the area later this month.

traffic in Harrogate town centre

Earlier this year, members of the public were asked to give their views on a range of measures to combat congestion, from improvements to encourage more people to walk, cycle or use public transport to options to manage demand and larger infrastructure projects, such as park and ride services and an inner relief road for Harrogate.

The responses have now been collated and analysed by North Yorkshire County Council officers and the findings will be presented to members of the Harrogate and Knaresborough Area Constituency Committee on 29 August for their comments.

More than 15,500 responses were received to the County Council’s survey and possible next steps have been outlined taking these into account.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “We went into this engagement with open minds. We genuinely wanted to find out, first of all, to what degree people perceived congestion as a problem, and then what types of measures they would support to address the issue.

“In total, 84% of respondents said they did view traffic congestion as an issue in Harrogate and Knaresborough, which supports our own findings.

“We have now listened to what people have told us and the report produced by our officers reflects that.”

In total, 78% of respondents did not support the option of an inner relief road between Harrogate and Knaresborough. For that reason, the report recommends that this proposal should not be taken further at this time. Based on local responses, the report suggests further consideration of a bypass for Killinghall and a possible link from the B6162 Otley Road to the A61 Leeds Road.

Measures with the strongest support included improving cycling and walking infrastructure (77%), introducing park and ride facilities (71%), encouraging smarter travel choices and behaviour change (75%) and the introduction of bus lanes and priority for buses at junctions (59%).

The report suggests several possible next steps that acknowledge this support. These include:

  • producing a walking infrastructure plan;
  • preparing “bid ready” cycling and walking routes so that funding opportunities can be seized as they arise;
  • assessing the feasibility of a package of park and ride sites and services;
  • assessing the potential for commercial bus services to carry park and ride passengers;
  • working with bus operators to identify routes where priority measures could improve the commercial viability for the provision of services and identifying potential bus priority measures to achieve that;
  • developing a package to encourage smarter choices and change behaviour, building on the Open Harrogate initiative;
  • considering the potential for higher-cost, longer-term solutions at key junctions (for example Woodlands junction and Parliament Street/Kings Road);
  • identifying key junctions and congestion hotspots; and
  • reviewing traffic signals to see where improvements might be made.

A congestion charge or increased parking charges received little support, with 21% of respondents agreeing and 64% disagreeing, so the report suggests work on a congestion charge is taken no further at this stage. The report suggests a review of on-street and off-street parking charges and consideration of expanding car parking management zones to encourage the use of, and support investment in, alternative modes of transport.

Cllr Mackenzie added: “The feedback from the engagement has helped us to build a more detailed picture of people’s concerns around congestion and their preferred solutions, which is what we wanted it to do. Having received wide agreement that congestion is an issue, we now need to consider how we can address it within the parameters of the measures people have indicated they would be willing to support.

“Whatever decision is taken about the way forward, we should remember that tackling congestion is not solely a task for the County Council, or any authority. It is something all of us who live and work in affected areas need to consider when making decisions about how and when we travel.”

After being presented to Harrogate and Knaresborough Area Constituency Committee, the report will be discussed by the Skipton and Ripon Area Constituency Committee on 6 September. The report, including feedback from the two area committees, is then planned to go to the County Council’s Executive in October for a decision on the next steps.