The transport boss for Harrogate has said there is still no completion date for the Otley Road cycle path, despite construction finally starting after nearly three years of delays.
Cllr Don Mackenzie, executive member for access at North Yorkshire County Council, said he was unable to give any “exact dates” for the completion of the project, which started last month with work on a first phase between Harlow Moor Road and Arthur’s Avenue.
This phase will be completed in late November but covers only a small section of the entire route, which is designed to connect the town centre with Cardale Park.
Cllr Mackenzie said the uncertainties over the end date were due to negotiations with the government and the Duchy of Lancaster – the landowners of the Stray – over the use of grass verges protected by law.
There are also ongoing talks with housebuilders that have promised to contribute cash – and the outcomes will depend on the publication of the West Harrogate Parameters Plan, a major planning document that has also been long delayed.
Cllr Mackenzie said:
“The bylaws required to complete phase one and two have been submitted to the Secretary of State for confirmation, who has agreed the new bylaws in principle.
“Phase three – from Harlow Moor Road to Cardale Park – relies on developer funding from the west of Harrogate urban extension. Plans are currently being worked on which will then lead to more detailed planning, including a feasibility study.
“Since the timescale for the construction of the western end of the cycle path between Harlow Moor Road and Cardale Park depends on developer funding and further work on the parameters plan for the west of Harrogate, we cannot yet provide exact dates.”
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Frustration among cyclists
The cycle path is part of a package of sustainable transport measures for the west of Harrogate, which were first announced in 2018 and will cost £4.6m once completed.
But three years on – and after the delays caused by consultations and utility works – campaigners who have supported the project have now expressed frustration at still not knowing any kind of target completion date.
Kevin Douglas, chairman of Harrogate District Cycle Action, said it was “great news” that the works were finally underway, but added he was “disappointed” that the public could not be told when they will be finished.
“The worry is that only a small part of the project will be completed and people will look at it and think it is not doing the job we wanted.
“The idea was that the cycle path will link Cardale Park with the town centre.
“That is the council’s ambition, but it needs to be done in one go to make it effective and so people can use it, rather than it looking like it is not going to be of any benefit.
“I am pleased it has started and hopefully it is going to run smoothly, but not being able to say when it is all going to be finished is disappointing.
“There is going to be a huge number of houses on Otley Road and having a complete cycle lane when these new residents move in would be a big plus.
“Whereas now, it may be that the cycle lane comes sometime later.”