Further analysis of potential solutions to congestion problems in Harrogate and Knaresborough has been completed. The County Council will now seek views to help members decide whether to consult the public.
The findings of this further study will be presented to North Yorkshire County Council’s Harrogate and Knaresborough Area Constituency Committee on 8 November and to its Skipton and Ripon Area Constituency Committee on 13 December. In January, the County Council’s Executive will decide whether to consult the public on the options.
Congestion in the two towns is worse than anywhere else within the County Council boundary and three air quality management action areas have been declared, two in Knaresborough and one in Harrogate.
Growth in housing and employment in the area is forecast to continue, with 11,700 houses and 20 to 25 hectares of new employment land anticipated by the end of the Local Plan period in 2035. Much of this is to be within the urban area. Journeys are forecast to peak at 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.
Last year, the County Council commissioned independent consultants to review the causes and impact of congestion and to consider measures to address the problem. The review’s objectives were to improve the quality of life, support sustainable housing and economic growth, protect and enhance the environment, including air quality, and improve connections along the A59.
An options assessment report was completed and considered last December. It was then decided to undertake further study, focusing on two of the packages of measures put forward in the report.
One package focuses on managing demand and encouraging behavioural change, with options including developments in public transport and the cycling and walking infrastructure, measures to improve journey planning, extended pedestrianisation in central Harrogate, a congestion or low-emission zone, speed and weight limits and optimising the existing road network. The second package contains similar measures plus the option of an inner relief road.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “Our officers and consultants have carried out a review of last year’s report to the Area Committee and of the costs and benefits of each package. We have listened to the views of interested local parties via an Engagement Group, which met as many as four times during the summer.
“The report will be presented to the area constituency committees specifically to seek members’ views to inform the County Council’s Executive decision on whether to consult the 48,000 households in the Harrogate and Knaresborough area about the options in the two packages.
“We are at an early stage of what will be a long process. No decision has been taken on any option or package in the report. What lies before us now is to determine whether to put forward these options in a public consultation in order to seek the views of the residents of Harrogate and Knaresborough.”