Business people defend town plan

BUSINESS leaders have defended a controversial new masterplan to transform the centre of Harrogate but warned the proposals need a radical overhaul before receiving their full backing.

The plans, by Harrogate property magnate Phillip Lunn, to pedestrianise the town’s Parliament Street and divert A61 traffic down Montpellier Hill, have provoked an outcry from residents since they were announced less than a fortnight ago.

Critics claim it would bring traffic chaos to historic low Harrogate around Valley Gardens and the Pump Room Museum.

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Following a meeting on Monday night between Mr Lunn and more than 100 members of the Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce, its president Simon Cotton yesterday defended the scheme to the Yorkshire Post.

But he warned the proposed diversion of the A61 would need to be changed before throwing their weight behind the proposals.

He said: “I am surprised at the public reaction to this, it is a shame.

“It is a knee jerk reaction to say no to something before thoroughly looking in to the proposals.

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“We are supportive of development in Harrogate and want to see investment in the town to make sure we are competitive for the future.

“Last night I felt it was quite an encouraging response.

“The biggest issue we have is with the transport aspect but it is also about how it will impact on other parts of the town.

“We want to see what happens with the plans after wider consultation from the public and businesses.”

The development includes a large public square created around the town’s War Memorial while the historic Montpellier Quarter would also be redeveloped.

Planning applications prepared by a group of Parliament Street landowners are expected to be submitted this year.

Mr Lunn was unavailable for comment yesterday.