CAMPAIGNERS have spoken of their delight after controversial proposals to cut congestion in a town plagued by traffic issues by building a relief road near a beauty spot have been abandoned.

Recommendations to a meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s executive next week include to “not progress with the Harrogate inner relief road” scheme that had proved contentious particularly due to its passing near Nidd Gorge,

The council had always stressed the Bilton to Forest Lane ‘relief road’ was just one of numerous options. But many people had feared the council would press ahead with the relief road plan despite some 12,000 people, or 78 per cent of respondents to the Harrogate Congestion Study public engagement exercise, opposed building a road near the gorge.

In a report to the authority’s leading members outlining responses to the public engagement study, council officers have suggested a range of alternatives to ease traffic issues across Harrogate.

They include environmentally-friendly initiatives, such as producing a walking infrastructure plan, preparing walking and cycling routes that are ready to bid for government grants when the funding becomes available, reviewing car parking charges, considering expansion of car parking management zones and supporting investment in other types of transport.

Road-building proposals are now limited to making an initial assessment of a Killinghall bypass and of a highway option to link the B6162 Otley Road to the A61 Leeds Road.

The council’s executive will also consider assessing the feasibility of park and ride sites and services for Harrogate and Knaresborough and developing a package of “smarter choices and behaviour change measures”.

It is proposed the council works with bus operators to identify bus routes where the provision of bus priority measures could improve the commercial viability for the provision of services and work to identify key junctions and congestion hotspots that would benefit from improvements.

Bilton ward councillor Paul Haslam said: “The council has clearly listened to the views of the public, which they have prioritised. I am delighted with the recommendations that have been put forward and in particular the move to have routes that walking and cycling routes that are ready to bid for government funding.”

The council’s executive member for highways Councillor Don Mackenzie, said the recommendations showed the authority was paying close attention to the public engagement.

He added: “We are still at an early stage in this process and the measures agreed by my colleagues will take some time to develop fully. Above all, the need to influence travel choices and to encourage sustainable travel in preference to the motor car will be our greatest challenge.”