Operator calls for bold thinking over £7.9m Harrogate gateway scheme

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CEO Alex Hornsby is calling for an LEZ in Harrogate. TRANSDEV

Transdev-owned The Harrogate Bus Company’s CEO Alex Hornby has urged decision makers to create a low-emission zone in the heart of Harrogate, to build on the success of its electric buses as the debate continues over a £7.9 million regeneration plan for one of the town’s busiest thoroughfares.

Alex said that bolder thinking is needed to ensure the ‘Harrogate Station Gateway’ scheme succeeds in cutting air pollution on the streets, and the operator is calling for a low-emission zone to be introduced to cover Harrogate bus station and Lower Station Parade which runs alongside it.

A partnership of North Yorkshire local authorities has already secured a total of £31 million from the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities fund for three separate projects in Harrogate, Skipton and Selby. It aims to finalise designs and start construction work by summer 2022, with completion in 2023.

The ‘Harrogate Gateway’ forms an integral part of a wider plan to cut emissions and tackle traffic congestion in the town, including public transport and highway improvements. Key elements include: a better-linked public transport hub for buses and trains; new bus priority areas; and options to reduce vehicle traffic to one or two lanes on Station Parade, with the aim to create a more welcoming town centre for bus and rail users, with more safe space for pedestrians and a new area for public events.

Alex said: “While we see the Station Gateway proposals as a positive step towards our shared aim of a low-emission town, we must go further for our Harrogate’s future by making the most of this tremendous opportunity. Our positive experience with our ground-breaking Harrogate Electrics buses shows we can change our town’s air quality for the better if we do things differently – but we must do much more.

“The creation of a low-emission zone, covering the current bus station, plus Lower Station Parade which currently divides the bus and rail stations from the main shopping area, is vital if we are serious about improving Harrogate’s air quality.

“The proposed bus priority measures at Lower Station Parade and Cheltenham Parade – the first such measures to be put forward in the town’s history – are a positive start, and are to be welcomed, but by themselves are unlikely to go far enough to achieve Harrogate Borough Council’s stated aim of creating a net-zero carbon economy by 2038.

“Consultations on Harrogate’s 2016 Masterplan and the county council’s 2019 congestion study both showed majority public support for non-car solutions to traffic problems. Now is the time for bold thinking to make a vision of a congestion-free public transport gateway to our town a reality, with a low-emission zone at its heart.”