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Crescent Gardens Road

Crescent Gardens



The Civic Society sent the response below about the possible stopping up of the Crescent Gardens Road. On 7th May 2024 the application went to the planning committee. The committee decision was that the application be deferred whilst further information was sought.

Civic society response:
23 December 2023

Planning Services, (Harrogate Area),
For the attention of Gerard Walsh,
P.O. Box 787,
Harrogate HG1 9RW

Dear Mr. Walsh,
Planning Application ZC23/03697/FUL
Crescent Gardens, Harrogate

We were pleased to welcome application 21/01336/FULMAJ for re-use of the old Harrogate Borough Council offices for commercial offices plus restaurant use etc.

The need for car parking for the offices and restaurant is understood. Therefore the car parking opposite the offices that was created for the previous Council occupation of the building is acceptable, despite the fact that this land was once part of the gardens. It is appreciated that this car parking is linked to the delivery of the proposed re-use of the building. The chaotic car parking that was common whilst HBC was in occupation of the building is mentioned in paras 6.7 and 6.14 of the Planning Statement and shown in a photograph in Appendix 1 Figure 11. The relevance of this is unclear as the current and future occupants have control over the ‘apron’ parking and we would not anticipate such a situation occurring again.

The Planning Statement at para 6.25 says that only 2 parking spaces will be lost in the proposal but this refers of course simply to the off road parking ‘apron’. Many more parking spaces would be lost to the general public by denying those currently on the road and of course a loss of parking income to the Council. It should be remembered that parking for the Royal Hall is an important consideration. Until Exhibition Hall M was built, the area to the south of the Royal Hall was available for parking most of the time. Events there are of course a major asset to the town. It is anticipated that the Crescent Gardens building will also be a major asset to the town in terms of employment.

Approval of the planning application would seem to give complete control over the section of road and footway within the red line application site. If such approval wasallowed by a Stopping Up Order, would this necessarily involve extinguishing the right of way for all vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists? There is no barrier proposed across the footway. The rising bollards may allow enough width for cyclists to pass
through. If they didn’t, regrettably many cyclists would be likely to use the footway. Four cycle stands are to be lost. Would they be replaced anywhere within the development or somewhere available to the public?

The example of planters shown in the photograph in Appendix 3 that were used in the Beech Grove Low Traffic Neighbourhood experiment, are not attractive – not much more than wooden crates. Two small areas of tarmac would be removed and replanted whilst retaining the trees, which is welcome. Two small new planted areaswould be created at the eastern end of the development, which are unobjectionable in principle (except for the planters) if the road were allowed to be closed off (with the loss of 4 cycle stands). New paving of the road to provide a neat and logical way for pedestrians from the gardens to the entrance to the office building is very acceptable. As noted in the Planning Statement at para 6.24 it follows a desire line. However, this small area of paving and those at either end of the application site do not satisfy the Town Centre Strategy & Master Plan (even to a small degree) that is referred to in the Planning Statement at paras 5.19 & 5.20. The “Masterplan” envisages wider improvements than would be satisfied by privatising the road & retaining almost all the tarmac. However, it would be an improvement to pave the whole of the parking apron in the same way as proposed for the desire line from the gardens to the building entrance.

In 2019 there were moves to privatise the Crescent Gardens road and the Gardens. The Civic Society consulted members and met to discuss this proposal. When responding about use of the road, there was hardly any support for privatising it or stopping it up. Apart from loss of public parking (in addition to that lost when Hall M was built) the road is of value for traffic flow. It has a function in reducing traffic at the
Crescent Road traffic lights and on Swan Road at the Ripon Road junction, especially in cases of heavy traffic or blockages. The road has the advantage of being two-way, unlike Crescent Road, which is in part only one way. The Crescent Gardens are increasingly being used for events. Access to the road in front of the shelter from Crescent Gardens Road would be cut off, thereby increasing problems of setting up events.

The proposed uses of the building for offices and restaurant etc. are ideal and greatly to be welcomed. We consider that the car parking on the tarmac apron is an important factor for operating the business. We do not agree that closing off the highway to the public is acceptable, even if it was closed to motor vehicles but
maintained the right of way for pedestrians and possibly cyclists. To keep the road fully open would not affect the private area of car parking for the offices and still gives the businesses access to the public parking on the road as well as to other members of the public. Loss of public access to the parking spaces on the road would compound the previous loss of parking beside the Royal Hall.

Crescent Gardens is important as a highway for two-way traffic to ease the passage of vehicles to Ripon Road and to and from Swan Road and the Duchy estate etc.The fact that a route other than Crescent Gardens exists is not a reason for Stopping Up this right of way.

The benefits of this proposal are highly exaggerated in the Planning Statement at Section 6 - Planning Assessment. It would be tedious here to comment on each para but the proposal makes no positive contribution to Heritage & Design and the Conservation Area except the slight benefit of paving a desire line from the gardens to the main entrance of the building. Almost all the remaining tarmac is left in place.
What could make a positive contribution without privatising the roadway would be to pave the whole of the car parking apron and so make this private area distinct from the public roadway.

The proposal makes no contribution to the Town Centre Strategy and Masterplan. To claim the road for private use and leave it with a tarmac surface may even be detrimental to a wider scheme for improvements that hopefully will come forward in the future.

We recommend refusal of this proposal which is surely not going to have any significant adverse effect on the implementation of the proposed uses of the Crescent Gardens building, which we consider admirable.

Yours sincerely,
Henry Pankhurst
On behalf of Harrogate Civic Society

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