Harrogate District Council has now approved details for improving connectivity, including to the HIC, following a successful Department for Transport funding bid. A three-year £1.65m programme will be funded from the Government’s Local Sustainable Transport Scheme and will add to the £1.4m the council had already earmarked for transport.
The A661 Wetherby Road route into Harrogate will be upgraded and new cycle routes built between the A661, the Great Yorkshire Showground and the town centre.
HIC Deputy Director Simon Kent highlighted improved pedestrian routes between the venue, bus and railway stations. “There will be more pavement widening and it is all another link in our strategic plan,” he said.
Kent also hailed recent improvements at Leeds Bradford Airport including more international routes.
“We have a large number of national events and organisers at the HIC who want more southern visitors and exhibitors, so we are lobbying to add to the current one daily direct train service to London.” Kent was also hopeful of getting more when the next franchise requirements on the East coast mainline are finalised.
The first new direct service from London to Harrogate in 20 years was announced last year in Parliament. After local lobbying on the economic case for that service, Transport minister Theresa Villiers told local MP Andrew Jones she was impressed with the work done by the honourable member and the Chamber of Commerce in Harrogate and a number of Harrogate business interests to make the case for improved rail services between Harrogate andLondon.
“I would encourage them to continue that input when the consultation takes place on re-letting the East Coast franchise. We will, of course, take those representations into account in the decisions we make on Harrogate services,” she stated at the time.
Alongside transport updates, Kent said there are plans for a new 107-room budget hotel to be built next to the HIC, in addition to the refurbished Majestic opposite and the Holiday Inn attached to the venue.
Sustainability was a key driver in the construction of the new event halls at the HIC and earlier this summer. South Yorkshire received a major grant of almost £25m to improve sustainable transport and help connect people to jobs.