LARGE lorries and wagons should be banned from travelling through Settle town centre and the market place pedestrianised as part of a project to regenerate the community.
The findings come out of a report commissioned by Settle Area Regeneration Team which looks at the challenges ahead for jobs and the environment.
It also calls for environmental improvements in the town centre and wants the town to be promoted as one of the main gateways to the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
It also insists that the bulk of mineral extraction from the quarries in Upper Ribblesdale should be transported by rail to ensure the park remains a place for quiet and peaceful recreation.
The independent report, financed by local businesses, North Craven Heritage Trust, Yorkshire Dales Society, Giggleswick School, residents and the Chamber of Trade, argues that Settle is most likely to prosper in the future by developing its service economy to meet the needs of residents and visitors.
It pinpoints the potential for the introduction of HGV restrictions through a Traffic Regulation Order similar to that which bans heavy goods through Kirkby Stephen and says there is a need for a transport policy that encourages the quarries to move stone by rail and not road.
The town’s strengths when compared to other similar sized communities were its large number of shops and services, the market, good parking, high landscape quality and the number of visitor attractions including the national park and the Settle to Carlisle railway.
Town councillor and Chamber of Trade member Steve Amphlett said because of the strong polarised opinions in Settle about heavy quarry lorries coming through the town, they had been keen to ensure that it was an entirely independent investigation.
“The report has come out strongly that lorry travel through the town is a big issue. It has confirmed what we feel, that whatever people think, whether they are for or against, it is having a big impact on the town.”
He refuted arguments that it would lead to the closure of the quarries and the loss of jobs but believed action to prevent HGVs coming through the town would be of benefit to the local economy.
Quarry stone should be carried by rail, he said, adding that he believed quarry bosses were prepared to take that on board.
“We feel that it is time to move in that direction and a meeting has been planned with the chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and we are calling on local politicians to come on board,” he added.
Skipton MP Julian Smith praised the report and said it would provide important evidence about the current situation and insights into the local economy which would be able to develop a stronger future. “Settle is a fantastic place with great community spirit and I am delighted to see local organisations, businesses and individuals working together.”