Burley Bridge Breakthrough

“The BBA now has the bigger challenge of raising approximately £400k to get the bridge built.”

A key piece of legal advice has now opened the way to full local authority support for the Burley Bridge, the crucial footbridge which will connect footpath networks on either side of the River Wharfe to replace dangerous stepping stones, and provide vital health-giving access on foot for the people of West Yorkshire to Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for this and future generations.

David Asher, a Trustee of the Burley Bridge Association explains more:

West Riding RA Members may remember the rather downbeat report from Keith Wadd following his attendance at the Annual General Meeting of the Burley Bridge Association (BBA) in May last year. Members of the BBA were asked to vote on whether to wind up the Association, mothball it, or carry on with an active campaign. Although the bridge had been given planning consent by both Harrogate and Bradford Council, trustees of the BBA reported that they were currently unable to find a solution to the lack of consent from the north bank landowner for a bridge to be constructed. Fortunately, members voted to continue with an active campaign, with a focus on persuading North Yorkshire and Bradford Councils of the value of using any statutory powers that were available to them.

Twelve months on, the river landscape has significantly changed. Legal advice was provided by a BBA member living in Burley about new legislation that could potentially be used in order to secure temporary access during the construction phase of the project. Burley’s MP, Philip Davies, who had earlier secured a helpful meeting with senior officers in North Yorkshire, was again helpful in trying to get ministerial advice as to when the legislation would become available for councils to use. As a result, Alok Sharma MP, then Minister for Housing and Planning, made very specific suggestions about existing legislation that could be equally applicable, and possibly more useful to the Burley situation. Subsequently, a number of meetings and discussions were held involving officers on both sides of the river. This resulted in agreement being reached with North Yorkshire and Bradford Councils about how to address any legal obstacles to the project being completed. Providing certain necessary legal requirements are met (mostly about ensuring adequate funding is in place), there is now a commitment to considering the use of statutory powers to enable construction and future maintenance of the bridge, so overcoming the current impasse.

Planning consent has also recently been renewed by Harrogate Council, and a decision is expected shortly from Bradford Council. This is a major breakthrough, as it means that for the first time since Ramblers members initiated the campaign for a bridge in 1996, the BBA is now able to start fundraising to complete the project. Previous fundraising covering the costs of planning applications, design and survey work has been well supported by local residents and Ramblers members. The BBA now has the bigger challenge of raising approximately £400k to get the bridge built. A number of fundraising events are scheduled over the next year, and applications will be made to grant-awarding major trusts and corporate funding bodies. Keep in touch with developments through the website www.burleybridge.com or Facebook www.facebook.com/burleybridgeassoc/ , or contact trustees at burleybridge@gmail.com. Regular newsletters detailing events and progress are provided to members and supporters.

David Asher