Plan to build £20m bypass around fastest growing village in Harrogate defended by transport bosses

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Highways chiefs have been pushed onto the defensive over major transport plans including a GBP20m bypass around the fastest growing village in Harrogate.

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 11:45 am

Plan to build £20m bypass around fastest growing village in Harrogate defended by transport bossesPlans for a bypass around Killinghall are being discussed

Campaigners and councillors have lined up to scrutinise North Yorkshire County Council's Harrogate Transport Improvement Programme (HTIP) which includes plans to create a low traffic neighbourhood in Bilton, a park-and-ride south of Harrogate, cycling and walking improvements, and a bypass around Killinghall. They said while progress on the park-and-ride and some sustainable transport measures were welcome, there were serious concerns around the bypass proposal and that more could be done to make roads more accessible for all road users - not just motorists.

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Coun Don Mackenzie, the county council's executive member for access, was forced to defend the plans, saying all road users were a priority and that the authority had a "duty" to respond to complaints from Killinghall residents who say the existing roads can no longer cope. "We have a duty to respond to the many residents who want to take some of this traffic out of their village," Coun Mackenzie told a meeting of the Harrogate and Knaresborough Area Committee on January 8.

"That includes 44-tonne lorries which could not be replaced by a person walking or cycling, and that is why we firmly believe further consideration of a bypass to take this traffic out of Killinghall is needed. "Any proposal for a stand-alone bypass for Killinghall would be accompanied by facilities for active travel, including a cycle path and path for walking. That is something we believe is essential."

It comes after a major consultation was carried out in 2019 into how to tackle rising levels of congestion in Harrogate, with residents rejecting the idea of a relief road to the east of the town. Highways chiefs have now shifted their focus to other plans, including the low traffic neighbourhood in Bilton which would see some residential streets closed to through-traffic to encourage those making shorter journeys to walk or cycle. They also say bus priority measures on two of the major roads into Harrogate, the A61 and the A59, "offer the potential to attract more passengers and improve reliability".

And after considering 102 potential sites for park and ride sites - where people could park outside the town centre and then get the bus - two locations to the south of Harrogate near the A61 are said to have "the greatest potential for success". Coun Phil Ireland, cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability at Harrogate Borough Council, said the two Conservative-run authorities would work closely together on the proposals and that greater priority should be given to cutting traffic on Wetherby Road and Skipton Road - two of the busiest routes in Harrogate. He also said it would be "very difficult" for the borough council to support the creation of a Killinghall bypass if it does not include "comprehensive" cycling and walking routes.

David Siddens, representing Harlow and Pannal Ash Residents Association, said residents living in the west of the district felt left out of the proposals and that not enough consideration was given to the "great uncertainty" of how travel habits could change. He said: "The only certain thing is that on the west side of Harrogate we will see up to 4,000 new dwellings in the next 15 years and that unless effective measures are taken there will be further deterioration in the state of the roads and the quality of life for our communities." Kevin Douglas, chair of Harrogate and District Cycle Action, also urged the county council to be more ambitious on green travel measures.

He said: "The identification of Bilton as a low traffic neighbourhood is welcomed but shows very little ambition in that other areas have not been identified.

With regards to cycling, there has been no infrastructure development since 2014 in the Harrogate district and even those schemes that are funded have not yet started."

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