Decision looms on future of Beech Grove low traffic neighbourhood


Last updated Jun 21, 2022
The low traffic neighbourhood on Beech Grove in Harrogate.

A final decision on whether to make the Beech Grove low traffic neighbourhood in Harrogate permanent is looming, according to the new county council highways chief.

Cllr Keane Duncan, who succeeded Don Mackenzie as the executive member for access at North Yorkshire County Council, said a decision was “upcoming” on the closure.

The measure was controversially introduced in February 2021 as a temporary one-year to closure in an effort to encourage walking and cycling.

County council officials later extended the trial until August this year.

Cllr Duncan told the Stray Ferret a decision will be taken in the coming months as to whether it stays or not.

He said:

“There’s an upcoming decision on Beech Grove as to whether it is made permanent or whether it comes out. We can’t really extend it any further on a temporary basis.

“It is either that it is there or it isn’t.”

Cllr Keane Duncan, executive councillor for highways on North Yorkshire County Council.

Cllr Keane Duncan, executive councillor for highways on North Yorkshire County Council.

He added that further consultation would be carried out if the decision to make the closure permanent and seek a traffic regulation order was taken.

Cllr Duncan said:

“For me, with the benefit of the time that it has been in place, it’s about seeing what people think about it now to see if their views have changed.”

Station Gateway

In a wide-ranging interview, the Stray Ferret asked Cllr Duncan about his views on the many multi-million pound highways schemes in the district.

On the £10.9 million Station Gateway project, Cllr Duncan said he was fully supportive of the the scheme.

He added, however, that he was willing to listen to cyclists, businesses and people ahead of the the third round of consultation this year.

Cllr Duncan said:

“I’m personally supportive of that scheme and we are wanting to progress it.

“We are going out to a third round of public consultation to ensure that everyone can have their say and their opinions.

“For me, my test on the ground is what do the local councillors think and feel? They are the representatives of their local community.”

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Meanwhile, Cllr Duncan said he was keen to press ahead with the second phase of the Otley Road cycle route.

County council officials were due to go out to tender on a construction contract this month with a view to starting work in the autumn.

Cllr Duncan said:

“We are pushing ahead with delivery of the Otley Road scheme.

“It is important to recognise that there is £4.6 million of funding for that scheme. It does connect in with all the other schemes ongoing within Harrogate.

“It is important to not look at every individual location in isolation. We have got to look at how this adds up to the bigger picture.”

‘Getting the balance right’

Cllr Duncan said he felt that that “on the whole” the council was trying to get the balance right on the various schemes across the district.

However, he added that he was aware of concerns over some of the schemes such as the gateway project.

He added:

“It’s about getting that balance right and recognising that at the moment most journeys are via car in and around Harrogate.

“It’s people trying to get to work, people trying to see friends and family and people visiting the town because Harrogate is a major tourist destination.

“We’re trying to encourage where we can for people to use other modes of transport. That’s not always possible, so we have to make sure we get that balanced approach.”

Look out for an in depth profile with Cllr Keane Duncan on the Stray Ferret later this week.

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