West Yorkshire Combined Authority to be asked for final funding approval for Harrogate Station Gateway

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority will be asked to approve the full business cases at its meeting on Thursday next week (14 March 14), bringing the total award to £38.3 million with additional funding provided by North Yorkshire Council.

The Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) projects, which are due to cost a total of £44.6 million to enhance access to transport hubs in all three towns, have already been approved by the Department for Transport (DfT).

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for highways and transport, Cllr Keane Duncan, said:

We welcome the Combined Authority’s proposal to support the transformative, revised schemes in Harrogate, Selby and Skipton.

The plans have been revised to ensure we focus on the elements which gathered the most public support.

After cross-party discussions, there has been significant change to the schemes, particularly in Harrogate, with the most controversial elements no longer moving forward.

We will soon begin preparatory work ahead of construction starting. This is a very exciting time for the regeneration of all three town centres.

Richard Brown, the Reform UK Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Harrogate and Knaresborough said:

Reform campaigned against the original Gateway scheme which was budgeted at some £12m with £2m of that already spent on planning and consultants fees that were wasted. Given the major reduction to the scale and scope of this revised scheme we are surprised to see that the budget of £12m remains the same..

This revised scheme is so watered down as to be almost useless, window dressing and will again compromise the thoroughfare on Station Parade for little if any environmental benefit and to the detriment of traffic movement on this major route through town. It appears to be a vanity project designed to secure funding irrespective of the need and demonstrates the continued ignoring of the opinions of the local residents.

The funding would be much better spent on resurfacing some of the roads in Harrogate which are in such a poor state of repair as to be almost impossible to drive on safely.

Tom Gordon, Harrogate and Knaresborough Libdems, said:

This is an exercise in saving face for Cllr Duncan and the Conservatives, so they can tangibly claim to have done something. The problem is that this ‘something’ has divided our town, dragged on, faced delayed and squandered money, opportunity, and public faith in the process.

There still does not seem to be a satisfactory answer to how North Yorkshire Council ended up in a compromised position facing a valid legal challenge, after not following the correct planning and consultation processes, wasting millions of pounds on consultants along the way.

The cynics among us may also point out that this multimillion pound investment just so coincidentally happens to be receiving sign off in the run up to the York & North Yorkshire Mayoral election.

What is clear is that we need to get Harrogate moving. That goes for pedestrians, cyclists, rail and bus users, and motorists too.

People want to see bold solutions to the problems our town faces. It requires leadership from local, regional, national leaders and government.

Locally Liberal Democrat councillors have been key into making the best of this bad scheme, pushing for better engagement, better project monitoring, better connectivity into the rest of the Harrogate community.

This comes as a stark contrast to the years of abject failure of Conservative administrations at both Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council, who have failed to get to grips with these issues and produce a comprehensive integration transport plan for our area.

Getting our town moving requires national action too, which is why I am proud that the Liberal Democrat pre-manifesto policies include steps that would do just this.

We want to encourage people to use our railways, by investing in them. This means completing the electrification of our network, including our local line, freezing fares, and simplifying ticketing on public transport to ensure users are paying a fair and affordable price.

We want to see local authorities given more control over their bus networks, including the ability to run their own buses, so that bus routes can be restored or new routes added where there is local need, especially in rural areas.

We want to see investment in new cycling and walking networks separate from motor vehicles, empowering those who would love to cycle but won’t currently due to the lack of cycling infrastructure and concerns of safety.

That brings me back to Station Gateway, what does this scheme deliver? I am sad to say, for the £12 million price-tag, nothing transformative.

At best it is a tick box exercise for the Conservative Mayoral candidate and North Yorkshire Council, at a time when their Conservative have government has failed to invest in Harrogate.

We deserve so much better.

The £12.1 million Harrogate scheme reflects the revised focus agreed by the council’s executive in November.

It will see pedestrian changes along Station Parade, including raised crossings and signal junction changes, a bus lane from Bower Road into the bus station and a south-bound segregated cycle lane. Station Parade will remain two lanes and there will be no changes to James Street.

The scheme will also see public realm improvements to One Arch and Station Square, and new cycle parking at the railway station.

Subject to Combined Authority approval, construction is due to start in September and will take one year.

The revised £25 million Selby scheme is focussed on improving pedestrian and cycling access along Station Road and Ousegate, the new station access and car park to the east, along with improvements to the station building and the new plaza entrance into Selby Park.

Other elements, including the connection to Portholme Road, junction alterations at The Crescent and wider landscaping plans for Selby Park, would be brought forward as subsequent phases.

Construction is due to start at the end of September, with completion due for late autumn 2026.

The revised £7.2 million Skipton project will deliver the canal path connection from the railway station to the Cattle Mart and college, and improve the walking route to the bus station, along Black Walk, including the replacement of Gallows Bridge.

Improvements to the railway station car park would be brought forward at a later date.

The council hopes to appoint a contractor in July, with construction starting in September, lasting until June next year.

Harrogate Informer