Senior Conservative councillors have agreed to drastically scale-back Harrogate’s £11.2m Station Gateway in an effort to rescue the troubled scheme.
This morning North Yorkshire Council’s executive said it will remove the part-pedestrianisation of James Street from the plans and will end its hopes of reducing Station Parade to single lane traffic so it can build cycle lanes.
The council said a rethink was needed because Harrogate-based property firm Hornbeam Park Developments, which owns several commercial properties on James Street, issued a legal challenge in the summer that left the original vision in tatters.
The council admitted that it made a technical error during the consultation stages of the proposal.
It means the council’s flagship active travel scheme for Harrogate is still set to go ahead but may only include a redeveloped One Arch and Station Square, better traffic signals, a bus lane on lower Station Parade, new paving for pedestrians and cycling parking at Harrogate Station.
North Yorkshire Council said it will explore the possibility of creating south-bound segregated cycle on Station Parade although this is not guaranteed.
The council is also developing gateway schemes in Skipton and Selby worth a combined £42m with funding from the government’s Transforming Cities Fund.
The council’s executive member for highways, Cllr Keane Duncan, said today:
“Delivering capital projects of this scale in an era of high inflation and supply chain issues is not straightforward and not easy. It’s important we as an executive do not shy away from that reality. It’s important we are clear and realistic about what we can achieve.
“Our revised proposals focus on the core elements with the most public support and are built on cross-party engagement and frank and honest conversations.
“We are not reneging on the ambition and scale of our overall vision. The update today represents positive progress and puts us in the best possible position to deliver this landmark package of investment whilst avoid potential pitfalls, delays and constraints that we’re being very honest about.”
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Due to inflation, the Station Gateway project will still use its entire £11.2m budget, despite key elements being removed.
A report that went before councillors ahead of today’s meeting warned there are financial risks in developing a revised scheme.
This point was reiterated by executive member for finance, Cllr Gareth Dadd, who said the authority could be left “on the hook” if costs spiral.
The Department for Transport previously insisted that all projects must be built before March 2025.
This leaves a tight window for the council to get the project finished in time. The council also does not know if the government will agree to the changes.
The council must now undertake more public consultation, publish updated Traffic Regulation Orders and submit a new business case to West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which won the initial funding. It expects this process to take another five months.
If the business case is approved next summer, construction could begin by Autumn 2024.