A BID to turn Ilkley’s bus and train station into the best in the country has been launched - and the organisers want local people to get on board.

The Friends of Ilkley Railway Station (FOIRS) have been working with key stakeholders over the past 15 months and are now ready to unveil their vision for the town’s transport hub.

Ilkley Gazette: Rail and Bus Station overview showing new landscaping and public seating platform 1 to help

They want Ilkley residents to take part in a consultation process so they can begin working towards realising the vision - in 2025 the station will celebrate its 160th birthday.

Stephen Thornton, Chairman of the FOIRS, said: “We now want to share our thoughts with the wider community of Ilkley to get your thoughts and priorities as either users or beneficiaries of the thousands of people who visit Ilkley using our public transport links.

“Our transport hub is Ilkley’s shop window and creates the all-important first impressions for visitors.

“We want to generate support and interest in the local community to ‘get on board’ with our vision.”

Ilkley Gazette: Statement Planter with seating head of platforms, plus static signage with seating showing local

Over the coming months the group will use social media and a number of events in Ilkley to put forward their proposals and get a feel of what people see as the key priorities.

An event will be held in March, location and date to be decided, to offer people the chance to see the plans in person and discuss them with the FOIRS team.

Mr Thornton added: “We will use the opportunity to walk people through our plans and solicit your views and invite you to provide your feedback onto the FOIRS website survey.”

The survey is available now from the website homepage at www.foirs.co.uk.

Mr Thornton said: "We will also explore what the residents’ appetite is to make a fixed individual contribution to improvements for which there will be some permanent recognition.

“We will also approach individual businesses to seek donations towards specific items e.g. a planter, an information board.”

Ilkley Gazette: Landscaping and public seating Bus Station

Over the past 15 months FOIRS has been working with key stakeholders including Network Rail, Northern Rail and West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) as well as Bradford Council, Ilkley BID and Ilkley Town Council.

They have support for their plans, though stress that funding for future projects is not yet in place - that will be part of the project objectives going forward. However, they have been successful in getting funding to enable immediate repairs to the station from Network Rail.

Replacement of wooden fencing has been carried out on Platforms 1 and 2 and the M&S car park now has metal barriers in place. Repairs to the canopy between platforms 1 and 2 by M&S have taken place and the group has replaced the canopy and signage at the Rail Station entrance from the Bus Station.

Ilkley Gazette: Electronic signage end of platforms 1 & 2 presenting local cafes / restaurants / shops / events

Mr Thornton said: “We would like to thank Rob Ellams and his team, Alex Derevonko and Sandy Lynch from Network Rail for their continued support in getting this work done.

“FOIRS are in the process of adopting a small piece of land from Network Rail by the Railway Road entrance, which once completed we will look to turn into a ‘wild flower’ meadow. We have additional work scheduled for next year during the better weather including a volunteers day to take place 18th April 2024. This is being managed by Northern Rail’s Regional Community Manager Richard Isaacs.”

The station was opened in1865 as the Otley and Ilkley Joint Railway western terminus. Since then it’s gone through many changes. The station and its lines to Leeds and Bradford survived the ‘Beeching Cuts’ of the 1960s thanks not least to the campaigning efforts of the Ilkley Railway Supporters Association.

Mr Thornton added: “Today the station provides a vital connection for those living and visiting Ilkley, we at Friends of Ilkley Rail Station look to continue to improve this wonderful asset of the town and hope you are able to support us.”

A permanent display of the vision and plans will be present in the Library from January 2024 to end of February 2024.

If you have any questions contact FOIRS on email at: friendsofilkleyrs@gmail.com