A FURTHER step forward has been taken to extend the Wharfedale Greenway from Burley to Ben Rhydding.

Ilkley Town Council has asked the green transport charity Sustrans to prepare a formal quotation laying out the scope of an additional design and feasibility study for the Burley to Ben Rhydding section.

The Greenway is a proposed walking and cycling route linking Burley with Otley and Ilkley.

The first phase of the scheme involves turning a disused railway line into a walking and cycling route connecting Pool-in-Wharfedale, Otley, Burley and Menston.

Last November Ilkley councillors agreed to set up a working group to look at extending the Greenway through Ben Rhydding and Ilkley.

A report to a meeting of Ilkley Town Council last week asked councillors to instruct Sustrans to prepare a formal quotation so the section from Burley to Ben Rhydding could be considered for approval and budgeting in the 2021 budget.

The proposal was put after a meeting between members of the Wharfedale Sub Group with Sustrans representatives.

The report said: “A feasibility study had been commissioned by the previous town council in 2017 but had been left in a draft state to due uncertainty regarding alignment with routes from Ben Rhydding through Ilkley. There needed to be a consensus regarding the route before the study could be ratified.

“The Burley in Wharfedale section of the Greenway was making good progress, planning permission had recently been granted for the Otley section and Burley in Wharfedale were currently working on their application for planning which would take the Greenway to the Ilkley boundary. It seemed logical that if the Council were to agree to progress with the Greenway the section to concentrate on was the boundary of Burley in Wharfedale and Ilkley leading into Ben Rhydding.

“If Ilkley Town Council instructs it to do so, Sustrans is ready to carry out a detailed design and feasibility study examining the route options from Burley station to Ben Rhydding. Although routes covering this section of the Greenway had been considered in the original 2017 feasibility study, there were now some changes to the proposed route which needed to be properly assessed.”

Cllr Tom Franks said the meeting had been very positive and the key thing was to split up the Burley, Ilkley and Addingham section to try to make progress. He said the Ilkley and Addingham sections were problematic but this was less the case with the Burley to Ben Rhydding stretch.

Cllr Owen Wells described the Burley to Ben Rhydding Stretch as a “simple” section and said the town would lose out if the Greenway did not come to Ilkley.