An organisation that represents 187 businesses in Harrogate town centre has expressed ‘serious concerns’ around the economic impact of the Station Gateway proposal.

North Yorkshire County Council, Harrogate Borough Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority have secured £7.9m of Government funding for the scheme, aimed at encouraging more use of sustainable transport, in particular cycling and walking.

But ‘Independent Harrogate’ has said that the proposal failed to address the need for Park and Ride schemes, provisions for a large number of electric car charging points and extensive safe cycling routes to reduce congestion.

The group’s published response said:

“Whilst Independent Harrogate is supportive of the proposed ‘Station Gateway and Sustainable Transport Plans’ in general, we have some serious concerns this may have a negative impact on the local economy.

“The Town’s hospitality and retail sector is currently in a very fragile and critical state as a result of the impact of online competition and the catastrophic damage of Covid.”

Among suggestions by the group is the introduction of ‘Cycle Sundays’ in the town centre as an experiment to gauge public support, and without doing irreparable harm to retailers.

The group have called for Station Parade to retain its two lanes, with enhanced cycling facilities reserved for East Parade. They have also called for James Street to remain fully open whilst supporting its narrowing at its junction with Station Parade to aid pedestrians crossing the road.

The response added:

“We believe in an inclusive mix for everyone: walkers, bus travellers, cyclists, the disabled, commuters, tourists and general visitors.

“Independent Harrogate urges Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council to implement a well thought out and cautiously-phased Masterplan, that does not further damage the very fragile state of the local economy, and will be designed to avoid any costly mistakes.”

The group’s full response can be found here.

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