A Community Project

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Sharing with the Town
After many years of speculation and false starts, the Knaresborough Cliff Lift project is finally gaining traction: the feasibility process is now progressing well and is attracting positive interest from near and far. A mechanised transport system linking Knaresborough’s Riverside and Town is far from a new concept: it actually originates from a Town Strategy report back in 2005.  Historically, the project was blighted by a starvation of funds due to budget tightening and competing priorities, and consequently, the project has been kept ‘waiting in the wings.’

Renaissance Knaresborough, a local voluntary organisation, has continued to champion the lift concept, overcoming the past inertia by attracting further volunteers and persevering to secure funds from Harrogate Borough and Knaresborough Town Councils. Renaissance has long provided a framework and conduit for projects on behalf of Knaresborough residents, businesses and surrounding rural communities.

First and foremost the cliff lift will be an invaluable means of access, supporting those with disability and mobility challenges, but it will also serve to enhance the Knaresborough experience for all.  Knaresborough’s unique and picturesque topography does present a serious challenge for the local economy because the Riverside and Town economies are essentially isolated, with spending habits and the duration of stay seriously impacted by the separation of the two parts of the town. The proposed cliff lift has potential to link the town’s key features, attractions and retail, improving both experiences and boosting the town economy. The proposed lift will not look to substitute the existing footpaths - in fact it could well be used to improve the surrounding ground maintenance.

Renaissance has taken up the mantle of project development and has already begun to resolve a number of technical and commercial challenges which are a feature of such a complex project. Early this year Renaissance commissioned First Point Surveys to conduct a topographical study on an area adjacent to Castle grounds, and a non-invasive Geotechnical study is likely to commence in the coming weeks.

This type of project isn’t going to happen overnight.  There is a significant amount of work to be done with numerous consultations ahead.  A strong commercial case will be needed to draw investment, but for the scheme to be successful it must be beautiful as well as useful: so will entail a sympathetic design for local residents as well as enhancing the important heritage asset it serves.

Renaissance Knaresborough remains committed to the development of the cliff lift project.  However, its success is dependent on the contributions of the volunteers it can attract and the funds it can secure. Should you feel that you can assist in either contributing a proportion of your time or are able to support in some other way, please express your interest to Shan Oakes 01423 549376.

Renaissance Knaresborough will be launching a social media campaign at the end of May to keep local residents and businesses up to speed with the cliff developments, so watch this space.