Council issues assurances over Scotch Corner developments

Scotch Corner. the focus for numerous proposed developments. Picture: Google

Economy and roads bosses have issued assurances to residents that efforts are underway to address congestion issues at a motorway junction dubbed “Yorkshire’s biggest car park”.

Leading members of North Yorkshire Council said they had relayed mounting concerns over the impact of numerous large developments planned at Scotch Corner to national highways officials as they pushed forward an economic growth strategy for the county featuring the A1(M)/A66 junction as a key development site.

A full meeting of the authority at County Hall in Northallerton had heard from North Richmondshire resident Steve Hill, who called for all references to Scotch Corner junction 53 to be deleted from the strategy as there had been no consultation with residents.

He highlighted how the area surrounding the junction was open countryside and had not been allocated for development in the area’s existing Local Plan. He also claimed the strategy would be “a massive traffic and Co2 generator”.

Mr Hill said: “For the strategy to add to the mix of designation of development sites is irresponsible. Unallocated sites should be subject to a full consultation.”

Richmond councillor Stuart Parsons said approved plans for a designer outlet village and the country’s largest garden centre at Scotch Corner would bring many thousands of extra vehicles daily to the area, which was already heavily congested, creating “gridlock”.

He said: “It’s all very well to set out an economic strategy, but you have no understanding of what the communities in the immediate vicinity of these growth areas actually feel or need to be able to cope with them.”

Coun Parsons said with no public transport or green travel schemes planned, to avoid “an enormous carbon black hole” the area’s infrastructure needed improving before the major developments opened.

North Richmondshire councillor Angus Thompson said he believed Scotch Corner should be renamed “Yorkshire’s biggest car park”, adding the area was “a total mess”.

Coun Thompson said he had seen three different proposals over the last nine months from national highways over the roundabout.

Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Bryn Griffiths added a holistic approach was needed at Scotch Corner, taking in the community’s concerns and that infrastructure needed to be in place before developments took place there.

Councillor Keane Duncan, the authority’s executive member for transport, told the meeting part of the traffic issues at Scotch Corner had been due to traffic signals “not being synced correctly”, but that had been put right.

He said the authority had been clear with developers it would only accept cumulative impact assessments and travel plans, taking into account the impact of all approved schemes in the area.

Open to business executive member Councillor Derek Bastiman said the authority had taken into account the needs of residents as it developed the strategy, which he said would “make it very clear we are open for business”.

He said the strategy would not replace the Local Plan in any way and there would be many opportunities for communities to shape the forthcoming development blueprint as it was created.

Coun Bastiman said: “We need a strategy that attracts growth, investment and improvement whilst keep what makes North Yorkshire such a special place.”

When asked why the council was not taking “a more holistic view of developments” at Scotch Corner, Coun Bastiman replied there had already been “a lot of consultation” and there would be further consultation as the Local Plan was developed.