AMBITIOUS plans that will lead to a four kilometre cycle track linking towns in Wharfedale have been submitted to Bradford Council.

The Wharfedale Greenway would turn a disused rail line into a cycling and walking route linking Pool, Otley and Burley-in-Wharfedale.

After years of preparation, a “major outline application” has now been submitted for the first phase of the project, which would link Burley to Otley.

A group to move the plans forward was created, and includes representatives from Otley Town Council, Burley-in-Wharfedale Parish Council, Menston Parish Council, Pool-in-Wharfedale Parish Council, Bradford Council, Leeds City Council and green transport charity Sustrans.

The greenway will follow the route of a railway line that has been out of operation for over 50 years – the Arthington to Burley railway.

It is currently used by walkers, but the plans will see it get a major upgrade, with new surfacing and bridges at several locations.

The application says it would improve health outcomes in the area, as well as boosting tourism.

The application is for Phase One of the route, and includes preliminary works, provision of access controls and fencing, provision of major structures required to facilitate access including a steel bridge over Menston Old Road Bridge, steel bridge over the A65 Bradford Road and a steel bridge over A6038 Bradford Road, landscaping and additional vegetation.

A full planning application will be submitted if this outline application is approved.

Phase Two of the scheme would link Otley to Pool in Wharfedale, while Phase Three would provide an additional link to Menston.

The application says: “The disused Arthington to Burley railway that links the Harrogate line at Arthington to Burley-in-Wharfedale offers a unique opportunity to provide traffic free cycling in the valley.

“Its alignment offers a valuable leisure opportunity but also provides an easy link from Pool (avoiding a major road), for which Otley is the main centre of services and schools. It provides an easy link from Burley-in-Wharfedale to Otley which provides alternative amenities to Ilkley, which lies up the valley to the west.

“It provides a link from Otley to the railway stations at Burley-in-Wharfedale and Menston. It has the potential to provide a section of a longer greenway route within the Wharfe Valley capable of generating a tangible increase in the local tourism economy.”

The application says that the new cycle route would create seven full time jobs, and would need to link to the existing highway network at several points. The highly detailed application includes details of access points to the route, as well as ecological considerations. It also gives a “very approximate” timescale of works – that phase one would take 50 to 60 weeks to complete.

A decision on the application is expected in April.