Friends welcome progress on Wharfedale Greenway

Members of the Friends of Wharfedale Greenway heard about the progress that has been made in planning the Wharfedale Greenway over the last year at their first general meeting recently.

The group, which was set up earlier this year to raise awareness and support of the proposed greenway, reflected on some of the positive steps forward that have taken place since lockdown began. The Friends of Wharfedale Greenway are separate to the Wharfedale Greenway Steering Group, which is responsible for developing plans for the Greenway.

While there is still a lot of work to do before construction begins, recent milestones include the granting of planning permission for the Leeds section of the proposed route between Otley and Burley in Wharfedale, with the Leeds Chief Planning Officer noting, “The greenway will provide much enhanced local opportunities for leisure and recreation along the route which will effectively form a linear park. The route will also provide a practical route for more sustainable and safer daily journeys”.

A photo showing the current state of the route between Burley in Wharfedale and Otley

A photo showing the current state of the route between Burley in Wharfedale and Otley

The rest of the route between Burley in Wharfedale and Otley is covered by a planning permission which is currently being considered by Bradford Council. This includes a biodiversity study, which sets out plans to increase flora and fauna along the route. This includes planting native trees, creating ponds, as well as creating a wildlife corridor along the planned bridges by planting large containers of wildflowers.

There has also been progress on the spur to Menston, with the Parish Council and Sustrans in active conversations about this route. The Parish Council is in favour of a route which closely follows the route of the old railway loop that linked Menston with Otley.

In Ilkley, the Town Council recently agreed in principle to fund the feasibility study for the next section of the route, between Ilkley and Burley in Wharfedale. Councillor Tom Franks said, “Ilkley Town Council is keen to promote opportunities for active travel and leisure around our beautiful town. The Wharfedale Greenway is an important aspect of this, and we hope to progress the Burley-Ilkley section to the next stage in the near future.”

Antony Butcher, founder and recently elected Chair of FOWG, commented, “Since setting up the Friends of Wharfedale Greenway I’ve been amazed at how much support there is for the Greenway along the valley. Whilst there is still a lot of work to do before construction begins it’s clear that momentum behind this project is growing along the valley”.

With Government research from 2018 finding that some 62% of adults aged 18+ in England agree that “it is too dangerous for me to cycle on the roads”, and busy roads deterring many parents from letting their children walk to school, the Government pledged last year to invest £2 billion pounds in active travel. The Friends of Wharfedale Greenway hope that if plans can be successfully developed, some of this funding could be used to construct the Greenway.

The group is working on creating a website to make it easy to find out more information about plans for the Greenway and progress. In the meantime, regular updates can be found on the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/friendsofwharfedalegreenway. The group will also be attending a number of local events, including the Otley Festival of Cycling on 4 July and the Real Food Ilkley market on 1 August.

Anyone who is interested in joining the group as a member or helping to plan future activities should contact friendsofwharfedalegreenway@gmail.com.The group has its next meeting on the 8th July which will be held via Zoom - the link to join can be found on the FOWG Facebook page. Upcoming projects include an exhibition on the Greenway and active travel at Ilkley Manor House, and a consultation about places that local communities would like to see having a safe walking and cycling connection to the Greenway.

 

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