A consultation to understand the public’s views on £11.2 million plans to transform the area around Harrogate’s railway and bus stations shows there is increased public support for key elements of the project.
The latest consultation attracted nearly double the number of responses and the results demonstrate significantly higher support for the proposals, which include better facilities for walking and cycling in the town centre and improvements to the railways and bus stations.
The overall results from the latest consultation reveal 45 per cent of the responses were positive with nine per cent neutral and 46 per cent negative. This compares to 39 per cent of responses being positive and 59 per cent negative in the previous exercises.
Analysis of findings from the third public consultation involving 2,044 people has been undertaken by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and showed support for key aspects of the scheme and its objectives:
- 51 per cent strongly agreed/agreed the proposals would be a better use of public space, and make the town centre more attractive to residents and visitors;
- 48 per cent strongly agreed/agreed the proposals would make it easier and safer for everyone, including people with disabilities, to get around the town centre;
- 41 per cent felt the proposals for enhanced walking and cycling infrastructure would have a positive/very positive effect for their travel in and around the town centre;
- 41 per cent felt very positive/positive about the likely impact on businesses.
The findings also showed most people felt the scheme would encourage active travel:
- 52 per cent felt that people would be discouraged/strongly discouraged to drive;
- 48 per cent felt people would be encouraged/strongly encouraged to cycle;
- 48 per cent felt people would be encouraged/strongly encouraged to walk.
Executive member for highways and transportation, Cllr Keane Duncan, said: “It is encouraging to see the public voice significant and growing support for the Gateway scheme and its objectives.
“While overall opinion of the scheme is split almost 50:50, key elements of the scheme received positive support from the public who took part. They told us they believe the scheme will be positive for business, make getting around the town centre safer and encourage more people to walk and cycle.
“Analysis of the thousands of individual responses has taken significant time, but this public feedback – both positive and negative – is invaluable to us as we draw up final designs. I am hopeful that this thorough process will address areas of concern and help build further support for the Gateway scheme from Harrogate residents, businesses and visitors.
“The next stage will be for local Harrogate and Knaresborough councillors to consider the feedback and have their say on whether they wish the scheme to go ahead. Subject to approvals, we remain on track to start construction in November.”
Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability, Cllr Phil Ireland, said: “I’d like to thank those businesses, residents and visitors who responded to the latest consultation. I am delighted to see that the majority of people who responded agreed that the proposals would encourage walking and cycling in the town centre. I was also pleased to read constructive suggestions to improve the scheme, which I truly believe will support a sustainable future for Harrogate.”
Ourselves, Harrogate Borough Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority are working together on the Harrogate Gateway scheme, funded by £10.9m of funding from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund and a £300,000 contribution from Harrogate Borough Council.
In the two 2021 consultations, people were invited to give views on whether to progress with the proposals, then on more detailed designs. The latest, third consultation was held last year inviting people to comment on the further detail of elements of the scheme.
The 2021 consultations resulted in 1,100 and 1,320 completed surveys respectively. The latest consultation attracted 2,044 surveys and more than 5,000 individual comments. A total of 52 per cent of respondents to the latest consultation had not taken part before.
It is estimated Transforming Cities Fund schemes across the Leeds City Region, in Skipton, Selby, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York, will improve journeys by bus, rail, bike and on foot for up to 1.5 million people, take up to 12 million car trips a year off roads and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from car travel by up to 15,000 tonnes by 2036.
The chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “The Harrogate scheme is just one example of how we are working in partnership to make it easier for people to walk, cycle and use public transport all across Yorkshire.”
The findings of the third consultation and details about next steps will be presented to out executive member for highways and transportation on Friday, 20 January.
These will include publication of the necessary traffic regulation orders, which is scheduled for February. These are statutory requirements for any changes to the highway and will be a further opportunity for public consultation.
In May, executive councillors will consider the outcome of the recent consultations and whether to submit the full business case to West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which would need to be approved to release the funding. In the event that all approvals for the scheme are received, construction is expected to begin by November.