News of the Bridge and Association

News Summary


2018 August 2818 Newsletter

Planning permission agreed by Bradford Council
The application for outline planning for the bridge was unanimously agreed by Bradford Council’s Area Planning Committee (Keighley and Shipley) on 11 June.  With North Yorkshire having agreed the application in May, we can now begin fundraising for the construction and maintenance of the bridge.  A big thank you from the Trustees to everyone who contributed to the positive outcome by writing in to support the applications and to Cllr Jackie Whiteley for her support including at the Planning Committee.

Donation from West Riding Ramblers
A major donation to go into the Fundraising bank account created following the May AGM has come from West Riding Ramblers. The group has made a generous £1000 grant to the project which is a brilliant boost to our funds.  We hope this will inspire other walking and running groups and organisations to get behind the project and help demonstrate to major donors that there is strong local and regional support for the bridge.

New logo and publicity materials
As you will have seen, we have a new logo. We hope you like it! This has been designed for us by Justin Leeming at Small Print, Menston to reflect the design of the bridge and some of the colours there will be at the site. We will be using this across all our publicity and fundraising materials in the future as we start the major fundraising phase of the project.  Our publicity leaflet has been similarly updated and will be used to help generate interest in the bridge, increase ourmembership and of course hopefully attract funds.  If you would like some copies to distribute to friends or to groups you are in contact with, please get in touch. And if you are on social media, please follow and share our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Fish and poems down at the river
The other walking focussed organisation in Burley, Walkers are Welcome, is about to start its annual contribution of guided walks for the Burley Summer Festival. Fourteen walks are on offer this year, two of which are focussed on the River Wharfe. Pat O’Brien, Fisheries Technical Expert with the Environment Agency, is leading a walk to the river on Tuesday 21 August at 2pm and will be discussing EA plans to repopulate the river with salmon, sea trout, lamprey and eel.  He will also talk specifically about the fish pass that the EA wish to construct on Burley Weir, ideally at the same time as the bridge.  In addition, our Vice President, acclaimed author and poet Colin Speakman, will lead a walk around the village on Friday 24 August starting at and ending up at Burley Weir. He and members of the Wharfedale Poets collective will be reading water themed poems at appropriate spots, some of which have been written specifically for the event.  Colin says it will be as much as a history walk as a poetry walk, so double the value!  Please support these two walks if you can.  Bookings can be made on the Festival website,, or in person at the Roundhouse open daily from Saturday 18 August 10am to 4pm.

Committee help needed
The main focus for committee members over the next couple of years is now to raise funds for the bridge and capitalise on the support we have from North Yorkshire and Bradford Councils to help make the project a reality. The six trustees would welcome, therefore, any offers of help from members willing to join the committee in order to share the load at this crucial stage.  It’s a great time to be getting involved and the more capacity we have to free up time for researching and then writing funding applications, the quicker we will achieve our objective! For instance, a secretary to help with minutes and meeting arrangements would be really helpful and not too arduous!

Litter management at Burley Weir
As you may remember, the Burley Bridge Association was instrumental in March 2016 in getting Bradford Council to install a litter bin near to Burley Weir. This was partly in response to concerns that were raised by Burley and Askwith residents during the planning application process in 2015 about the amount of litter being generated on the north bank of the river during the summer period, some of which ended up in the river itself. The fear was that a bridge would make things worse. After a year of collecting litter with the approval of both landowners, we were able to put a strong case for a bin near to the river site with the approval of many of the nearby residents.  Since the bin was installed and signs put up, the north bank and the river has remained comparatively free of litter. The bin has been well used, particularly during the summer months, and is checked regularly by volunteers to make sure that the area is kept tidy.   We would appreciate more help though!  If anyone is prepared to join the rota to do an occasional visit, particularly through the summer, it would be very much appreciated.  Please let us know if you are interested.  Spare bags, bin key, gloves etc. are kept accessible in a garage close to the site thanks to a local resident.

Upcoming events
We have a number of fundraising events planned to start the process of raising funds locally towards the project.  Please show support for the project by spreading the word and of course coming along!
Sunday 19 August:  Burley Summer Festival stall in Grange Park 
Although not specifically a fundraising event, we will have copies of our new leaflet available and information about other events later in the year. Come and say hello whilst enjoying the Classic Car Festival and all the other events that day!

Saturday 25 August:  9.30 – 11.30.  Coffee morning at St Mary’s Parish Centre, Station Road
We urgently need baking contributions to sell on the day, plus any contributions towards raffle prizes. Please let us know what you can offer (we can come and collect!) and come along to see us.

Saturday 29 September:  7.30  Burley Social Club.  Three great live bands: Sure Fire Affair (Indie/alternative rock), Me and Dan (acoustic covers), and Titan Soul (Metal)
These are all local bands with great sounds. Sure Fire Affair has just returned from a tour of the West Country, and regularly perform in Leeds clubs. They will be performing their new single which like all their material, is self-penned.  Tickets £10.  Check out their music -

Saturday 17 November:  7.30 Queens Hall - Folk concert with three local top quality acts:
Yan Tan Tether, Duncan McFarlane and Anne Brivonesse, and Rum Doodle
Yan Tan Tether are an Otley based female close harmony trio that play a host of instruments, but concentrate on creating beautiful a-capella arrangements of traditional and modern folk  songs.  Duncan McFarlane and Anne Brivonesse are an acclaimed local acoustic duo playing traditional and contemporary folk music.  Rum Doodle are a folk roots acoustic duo playing their original songs. Tickets £10.
Saturday 13 April 2019:  7.30 St Mary’s Parish Church. Steeton Male Voice Choir. Tickets £10

Information about ticket sales for all three music events will shortly be available on our website

Our updated website will soon go live so please look out for it including the Question & Answer section telling you everything you need to know about the bridge, we hope!

Posted: 21-Aug-2018 on behalf of the BBA


Question and Answers about the Burley Bridge

This is an updated version of a Q and A about the bridge project published on the BBA website in Spring 2015 following planning consent being given. This version also takes into account objection comments raised during the 2018 public consultation process.

1. Need for a bridge

Q: Why build a bridge in Burley when there are sufficient crossing points of the river nearby at Otley, Ben Rhydding and Ilkley?

A: Ben Rhydding and Otley bridges are approximately 2.5 miles and 3.5 miles away respectively and only reached alongside busy, polluted and noisy roads. While they may be suitable for car travel to access the north bank, they are not convenient or suitable for most walkers, runners and other people from Burley who say they would prefer a quiet, safe and traffic free crossing. A bridge would inevitably attract more walkers into Burley which would benefit local businesses. A long distance walk, the Yorkshire Heritage Way, has also been devised by Ramblers linking Bradford and Saltaire with Fountains Abbey and Ripon, crossing the river in Burley. This would also benefit hospitality businesses but will not be promoted until there is a safe crossing.

Q: Why not accept the unpredictability of whether it is possible to cross the stepping stones and adapt plans accordingly?
A: The stepping stones are a public right-of-way but are blocked for around half the year and can be dangerous and slippery to walk on at other times, particularly after winter water levels have recently reduced. Water levels also rise extremely quickly on the Wharfe and the stones can easily be covered in less than a two-hour period following rain upstream. Walking groups, athletic clubs and local schools, for example, find it difficult to plan to cross the river using the stones for organised events (for instance, cross country races) because of the risks involved. Individuals may choose to use the stones but occasionally have found themselves marooned on the north bank. The temptation to cross the river while in spate in order to avoid a 5 to 7 mile detour could lead to inappropriate risks being taken. The death of a young Burley person in l968 arose from this scenario.

Q: Why is the bridge supported by Burley Parish Council and by North Yorkshire and Bradford Councils?
A: Burley Parish Council included the bridge in its Neighbourhood Plan, following widespread support for the project by Burley residents during the public consultation stages and events. The Neighbourhood Plan was approved by Bradford Council following an 82% vote in favour at the referendum in May 2018. Both North Yorkshire and Bradford Councils include the bridge within their respective Rights of Way Improvement Plans given the strategic importance the crossing has for linking the footpath network on both sides of the river. Officers from both councils have continued to give advice and support for the project. The project has received long-term support from the local MP, Philip Davies, who has been instrumental in setting up council meetings and in securing important legal advice from a minister. There has also been consistent support from local ward councillors and from the Local Labour party.

2. Funding and Maintenance

Q: How will the bridge be funded?

A: The construction and maintenace costs of the bridge will be funded entirely from voluntary sources with no financial demand on either North Yorkshire or Bradford councils. Applications for capital funding will be made to businesses and grant-giving trusts. Local fundraising events will be held and members of the public will be invited to make donations.

Q: Wouldn't the money be better spent on community police officers or other community facilities such as a sports pavilion, the Scout Hut, a car park and so on?
A: The BBA will be targeting specialist sources of funding that fund large capital projects, not revenue projects involving salaries. As the focus of the project is a bridge to provide a link within a public rights-of-way network, the BBA does not envisage applying to the same sources of funding that would fund a sports pavilion, the Scout Hut or a car park. Members of the public are free to choose which local project or charity they wish to support.

Q:Where has the money gone that the BBA has already raised?
A: The majority of the money raised by the BBA from membership subscriptions and donations has paid for design work, detailed plans, surveys and for other costs associated with planning applications to Bradford and Harrogate Councils, including the fees for the applications themselves. The BBA has produced detailed independently audited accounts for many years which are distributed to BBA members and suppporters, prior to and during the AGM, which clearly indicate sources of income and expenditure. Since becoming a charity in August 2015, the BBA is also required to submit audited accounts to the Charity Commission and these are available to see on the Charity Commission website. Copies of recent accounts can also be found on the BBA website. At the 2018 AGM, BBA membership agreed that, in future, all donations received would be placed in a deposit account, ring-fenced for construction and maintenance costs rather than for campaign running costs.

Q: Is the BBA listening to concerns?
A: Trustees from the BBA are always prepared to discuss concerns about the bridge and can be contacted via the group's email address: Previous designs for a bridge have been rejected following concerns being raised by Burley residents and the current design was modified prior to the original application for planning approval being submitted following discussions with interested parties. AGMs are always open to the public as well as to members and supporters and have been widely advertised in the village to encourage attendance. Developments are published on the BBA website plus the BBA Facebook page provides an opportunity for comments to be made. AGM minutes are also published on the website. A decision not to publish minutes of Trustee meetings was taken in the autumn of 2015 due to the confidential nature of discussions with landowners and local stakeholders which were then being reported on.

3. Support for the bridge

Q: What are the views of those Burley residents living closest to the proposed site of the bridge?

A: Residents of Greenholme Cottages or Leatherbank are understandably anxious about any disruption that would be caused to them through the construction phase and, thereafter, by the impact of an increase in the numbers of people passing close to their properties (by using the public right-of-way in order to access the bridge). In terms of the construction phase, the BBA is committed to ensuring contractors work closely with residents in order to minimise the impact of construction traffic and noise from the site through frequent liaison meetings. A method statement for the construction phase will be produced as part of the detailed design stage.

After the bridge has opened, there will be inevitably an increase, following the bridge construction, of pedestrians using the public right-of-way from the village. However, it is doubtful that this will remain significant once the initial interest in the bridge has died down other than during the summer. The bridleway along Leatherbank and the permissive path from Greenholme Mills to the Weir already form the most popular circular walking route in Burley for people of all ages including older people, people with limited mobility and parents with children of all ages. Summer use may very well increase as a result of the bridge by local pople wishing to access the north bank for recreation. However, this land is private property and, while previous landowners have tolerated (albeit probably unwillingly) its use during summer for local picnicking, swimming etc. for decades, simple steps are being considered which could restrict or better manage such use even before a bridge is constructed.

Q: Do most of the campaigners for the bridge live outside Burley?
A: Five of the current six trustees of the Burley Bridge Association live in Burley. The majority of the BBA committee in previous years have also been Burley residents. 75% of BBA members and supporters live in Burley, Menston or Burley Woodhead. Some of the remaining members and supporters are ex Burley residents and most live in nearby communities such as Addingham, Harrogate, Baildon, Guiseley. During the public consultation events which took place in the village in 2014 prior to the last planning applications, the 80 or so people attending were mostly Burley residents with 5% objecting to the bridge.

Q: Does the bridge have any support from the Askwith community?
A: At a presentation in 2017 by the BBA to the Mid Wharfedale Parish Council covering Askwith, a number of concerns were raised about the bridge project. These were largely fears about the potential impact of increased numbers of people from Burley walking to Askwith, creating traffic hazards in the village because of the absence of footpaths. There was concern that the bridge would lead to an 'urbanisation' of Askwith and also concerns about a potential increase in litter and vandalism on the north bank. Privately, some residents have said that they would appreciate having a bridge in order to visit family and friends in Burley without needing to use a car. Businesses on the north bank would benefit from increase in trade from the village e.g. Cockpit Farm tea rooms. Unfortunately, the Askwith Arms closed again in the autumn of 2017 as it was not profitable, having previously been closed for a period up to 2015 for the same reason.

4. Site for the bridge

Q: Have all other sites for the bridge been fully assessed? What about Greenholme Mills where there are plans for a mixed residential and commercial developments?

A: The proposed site was selected after careful assessment of all the alternatives because of the existence of well-known rights-of-way on both sides of the river. A suggestion by Burley Parish Council that Greenholme Mills could be a more appropriate site was followed up immediately with the north bank landowner. He has responded, through his land agent, that he would strongly oppose any bridge and the creation of new rights-of-way across his property. This was a similar response to that made when the idea was first raised by the BBA earlier in the campaign for the bridge.

Q: Are there any plans to improve the bridleway that crosses the river at the ford close to the bridge site?
A: The BBA is willing to look at what improvements could be made to the ford in order to improve the ability of horses to cross safely. This would need to be done in conjunction with the owners of the south bank and the river bed, the West Riding Anglers' Association. Some informal discussion has already taken place.

5. Stability and durability of the bridge

Q: Is there a risk that the stabilising cables below the main walkway soffit will be vulnerable to snagging by large flood debris e.g. mature tree trunks?

A: This has been carefully considered by very experienced bridge architects. The design has also been reviewed by the Environment Agency (EA) with no adverse comment. Design of the stabilising cables can be achieved by a number of means and their orientation could be amended. They could also be removed if the deck itself is stiffened further. They are included as they lighten the overall structure and visual impact. Any changes to the current plan will be addressed in the detailed design stage.

Q: Can the Environment Agency's 100 year flood level of +63.5m AOD* be relied upon given that a local resident estimates this has been exceeded 3 times in the past 50 years?
A: There is no formal corroboration that this statement is correct. Currently available EA data indicates 1 in 100 year level of +63.05m AOD (+63.5m AOD includes an allowance for predicted climate change). The data even suggests that a lower level of +63.3m AOD is the actual 1 in 200 year level. The Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) mentions that the current EA flood level is used but should it change, then the central bridge span can be raised in the detailed design stage.

*AOD refers to Above Ordnance Datum and is the standard measurement used for measuring water levels.

Q: Wouldn't a more skeleton structure be more appropriate than the use of weathering steel which will restrict river flow, dominate the scenery and is more appropriate in an urban area?
A: Ramboll UK, bridge builders and designers of the proposed bridge and the BBA believe that the proposed design is appropriate. We all believe the structure is designed to have minimal physical and visual impact on its surroundings, will not restrict river flow and is just as appropriate in a rural setting as an urban one. Both Harrogate and Bradford Councils have also approved the design as being appropriate for an attractive landscape that has already been changed through industrial development.

Q: How will the maintenance of the bridge be organised and funded?
A: Burley-in-Wharfedale Community Trust has agreed, in principle, to take over responsibility for the bridge from the Burley Bridge Association following construction, to manage the maintenance fund and ensure that the maintenance schedule is adhered to. Bradford Council has indicated they may also be prepared to consider adopting the bridge providing that a 'dowry fund' was provided to cover long-term costs. The fundraising target for the bridge will include an element to cover life-time maintenance and repair costs. The bridge has been deliberately designed to be rugged, durable and simple with no paint finishes, no cladding, no moving parts and no drainage and, therefore, having low maintenance costs.

Q: Who will maintain the stepping stones in the future?
A: Currently, the stones are maintained by Bradford Cuncil, by agreement with North Yorkshire Council. Significant repairs were undertaken in June 2013 by Bradford Council following flood damage which had made the stones hazardous and inaccessible, due to gaps, for a number of years. However, the stones apparently form a hydrological function as well as being a public right-of-way and will probably need to be maintained following the transfer of the right-of-way to the bridge. The stones' future maintenance needs and costs and whether they could remain to be usable in the long-term, would need to be the subject of future discussion including between the Environment Agency and the landowner.

6. Southern bank and ramp

Q: How can the bridge provide a safe, dry, all-year crossing when the ramp at the southern side of the bridge will be 1.4 metres lower than that on the north side and so will be more likely to be inaccessible during highwater conditions? Doesn't the difference in heights pose a health and safety risk for people accessing the bridge from the north during high water?

A: The height of the southern ramp and of the northern board walk have been considered in conjunction with the Environment Agency with relation to optimising the usability of the bridge, balancing the need to clear flood waters and minimise the physical and visual impact on the surrounding landscape. It will be possible to raise the south bank ramp although this will mean incorporating more of the existing boundary wall. This will be considered within the detailed design stage.

Q: Will the 3 metre access between the southern ramp and the boundary wall of the access track prevent maintenance vehicles reaching the river bed with a problematic turn into the river due to the bridge abutment? Will the entrance to the access gate to 5 Acre Field (immediately after the bridge over the Goit) be affected?
A: 3 metres is sufficient width for the majority of vehicles. The ramp has been designed to minimise any physical impact. It should be noted that the EA is the main authority with overall responsibility for ensuring the maintenace of the river and they have not objected to the scheme including the width of the access track. There will be no impact on the access gate to 5 Acre Field, the entrance to which is some distance away from the start of the ramp.

Q: What are the specifications for the south ramp in terms of materials?
A: The south ramp will be formed of concrete with natural stone cladding to match the surrounbding walls.

7. Northern bank and boardwalk

Q: Won't the new large abutments exacerbate erosion of the north bank leading to the bridge becoming inaccessible?

A: There are no large abutments, only piers which are relatively small. Any mitigation measures will be considered in the detailed design stage in order to address existing erosion and risk of further erosion in consultation with the landowner.

Q: Is there a risk that the northern boardwalk will be fully submerged during major flood events with flood debris accumulating behind the deck?
A: The northern boardwalk has a proposed height of +62m AOD which Ramboll believe is the optimum level but could be easily raised. The boardwalk spans between a shelf incorporated into the main bridge pier and another as close to the north bank as possible. The parapets provide the structural depth with no below-deck impediment to water flow.

8. Users of the bridge

Q: Why go to the expense of a bridge and spoil a historic site just so a few walkers don't get their feet wet?

A: Analysis of the broad range of members of the public submitting support comments to both planning authorities provides evidence of the wide range of potential users for a bridge. These range from families with young children who wish to take short walks to Askwith, through to older local people who wish to maintain their healthy lifestyle through walking longer distances, to members of walking groups and athletic clubs from local and neighbouring communities and further afield who wish to make plans involving crossing the river with reasonable confidence. The safety risks that the stones post cannot be understated and it is important to remember that a 14-year old Burley Boy, John, died in l968 attempting to cross the flooded stones after a sudden rise in the water level. Memories of his death was said to be a reason by some of his contemporaries for joining the campaign for a bridge, including one person becoming a BBA member.

Q: Why has the bridge been designed so that it is inaccessible to wheelchair users? Isn't this discriminatory?
A: The second of the three designs that have been proposed for the bridge was an 'all user', wheelchair accessible bridge that could also be used by horses and bicycles. However, the necessary larger scale for the bridge was rejected by the majority of people in Burley as being unsightly and highly inappropriate for the site. The value for wheelchair users was also questioned given that the footpaths on the north bank are very unsuitable for wheelchairs. The bridge will, however, significantly improve accessibility to the north bank for local residents of all ages and ability who indicate they are anxious about using the stepping stones even when they are uncovered and able to be crossed. Ways of improving accessibility further will be considered at the detailed design stage.

Q: Won't the bridge encourage picnicking, barbeques, overnight camping by young people, drug-taking, anti-social behaviour, litter and trespassing further along the river bank towards Weston or to Ilkley?
A: The north bank is private land with legal public access only along the footpath and the bridleway. However, generations of Burley children, young people and adults including older people, have accessed the field on the north bank without formal landowner permission for recreational purposes during the summer months, especially at weekends if the river level has been low. This appears by and large to have been reluctantly tolerated by successive landowners for many decades. Litter has been a long-standing problem with many people choosing to leave remains of family picnics or late night parties on the north bank.

A litter bin, supported by nearby signs, was installed by the BBA in April 2016 near to the bridge site following agreement with the landowner, Bradford Council and nearby residents. It has been well used over the past two years and had led to a significant reduction in litter. The bin is normally emptied by the Bradford Council litter team weekly during the summer months and every 2 or 3 weeks during winter and is monitored by BBA volunteers who undertake regular checks. Litter will probably remain a problem on the north bank regardless of a bridge. West Yorkshire police have said that they will always respond to complaints of anti-social behaviour, for instance, loud music and overnight camping on the north bank.

Q: Will the bridge encourage more illegal parking on Leatherbank?
A: The majority of people who currently access the riverside site are local people who walk, run or sometimes cycle from Burley. Although the BBA was prepared to fund signage at the beginning of Leatherbank to indicate that the road was private property with no parking, a local resident funded the placing of a sign in 2017. It remains to be seen during 2018 to what degree this has the desired effect in deterring car parking. Other measures have been discussed with local residents but solutions would need to be agreed between all residents and landowners.

Posted: 24-May-2018 on behalf of the BBA


AGM Minutes 24.4.2018

To read the above AGM Minutes and AGM Minutes of previous meetings, go to the About Us section of the website and click on the Minutes bar located at the bottom lefthand side of the page.

Posted: 29-Apr-2018 on behalf of the BBA


April 2018 Newsletter

We are sad to announce the death of Peter Young, our Secretary and a founder member of the BBA. Peter died suddenly on 19th April, aged 78. He had been diagnosed with cancer last Autumn. An operation to remove a tumour was only partially successful earlier this year, and he was awaiting chemotherapy but was taken into hospital urgently the day before he died after feeling unwell. Our thoughts and deepest sympathy go to Janet and to Peter and Janet's two sons, Andrew and Richard.

Our AGM on 24th April at Burley Library, which Peter had intended to attend, was, unsurprisingly, a sombre affair as a result. Many people present had known Peter for a number of years and spoke eloquently about his quiet and understated manner which belied a passionate commitment and energy for two of his main interests in life, Scouting and walking.

As the BBA Secretary for many years, Peter was, in many ways, the public face of the Association, responsible for generating press releases, the point of contact for our high level supporters, dealing with all our correspondence, organisations of AGMs and managing the day-to-day work of the committee such as minute taking. As a founder member of the BBA, he was always one of the minority on the committee, not a Burley resident, living in nearby Otley. Nevertheless, Peter, as a lifelong walker and member of the Ramblers, was passionate about improving access to footpaths in Wharfedale for everyone, including Burley residents. This helped drive his commitment to creating a safe crossinbg of the river. We will miss him greatly.

Consent to hold and use data
Like many organisations, the BBA has been preparing for the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulations on 25th May, 2018. We have always ensured that the privacy of our membership is not compromised and that the data we hold (names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses) is only used for the purposes for which it has been given. Trustees have recently agreed the following statement in order to clarify how the BBA processes personal data. Please let us know if you have any queries:

1. The Burley Bridge Association (BBA) is required to implement the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) on 25th May, 2018. This is to ensure that the organisation has the consent of individuals to hold and use their data.

2. The BBA holds the name and contact address of members and supporters, plus email address and phone numbers on a secure electroic database. This is ued to send out periodic newsletters, electronically or hard copy by post, according to stated preference. Also, annual reminders for BBA subscriptions, notices about fundraising events, and notices of Annual General Meetings and other General Meetings that may be called by the committee or membership.

3. The BBA will assume that unless a member or supporter advises the organisation that they wish to be removed from the database by 25th May, 2018, that they continue to consent to being contacted by the BBA for the purposes detailed under paragraph 2.

4. When a member of supporter advises the BBA that they wish to be removed from the database, then their personal details will be permanently removed.

5. The BBA will not pass on personal information to third parties other than where this may be required by law.

6. If any member or supporter wishes to check what information is held by the BBA, then they are entitled to see this on request and to correct or update any information held by the BBA.

Planning Applications - Urgent request!
A number of you have responded to the call in the March newsletter for letters of support for the applications to Bradford and Harrogate Councils to renew planning consent for the bridge which we are very grateful for. There is nothing different in the current applications that were previously approved. However, following publicity posted on Facebook, advertising Tuesday's AGM and subsequent negative comments, there have been a significant number of objections raised over the past week. Many of these objections cover concerns that have previously been raised, such as visual impact on the attractive setting, a wish to preserve the unpredictability of being able to use the stepping stones, increase in litter, inappropriate car parking, impact on wildlife etc. In order to demonstrate the level of support for the bridge and reinforce what benefits a bridge would bring to Burley and neighbouring communities, trustees hope that members and supporters who haven't yet contributed to both planning sites, now do so as a matter of urgency. This will hopefully emphasise to the Planning Officers and Committees the many benefits that a safe, all-year-round crossing would bring.

Bradford's public consulation process can be found at: The reference number is 18/00663/OUT and comments can still be added.

Harrogate's public consultation process can be found at: . The reference number is 18/00623/OUT.

Although it is extra work, please contact both councils to assert your views on both sides of the river as every comment is noted! A few minutes of your time could make every difference.

Fundraising campaign starts

Up to now, all the money raised by the BBA has gone towards the running costs of the campaign and, mostly towards fees and costs for drawing up the detailed plans by Ramboll UK, associated survey costs and planning application fees. At the AGM, there was agreement from the membership for a proposal from trustees that the existing deposit account became the main fundraising account where any donations will be placed towards construction and maintenance costs. Membership subs will continue to be deposited in the current account, to be used for BBA running costs (postage, printing, insurance, organisational memberships etc.) As a result, we now have a healthy starting sum of £5,669.40 towards the bridge!

We are pleased to announce also the first two fundraising events for this final phase of the campaign:

Saturday, 29th September at Burley Social Club, an evening of indie / acoustic / metal by Sure Fire Affair, Me and Dan, and Titan Soul. These are local bands with a lot of energy and a great sound. A lively night is guaranteed!

Saturday, 17th November at the Queens Hall, a folk concert with Yan Tan Tether, Rum Doodle, and Duncan McFarlane and Anne Brivonesse. They are all highly rated singers and musicians, often headlining at local folk festivals and it should be a superb evening's entertainment.

Details of ticket prices and sales outlets will be available soon along with news of further events for 2019.

Please get in touch via our email address if you have any queries arising from this newsletter.

Burley Bridge Association Trustees

Posted: 28-Apr-2018 on behalf of the BBA


March 2018 Newsletter

New Planning Applications
Planning permission for a bridge was originally secured from Bradford and Harrogate Councils in 2014 and 2015 and applications for consent to be renewed have now been submitted to both Councils. We would urge as many as possible supporters of the bridge and members of the BBA to send in comments supporting the applications.

Bradford's public consusltation process is now underway with a closure date of 26th March 2018 and can be found at The reference number is 18/0063/OUT.

Harrogate's public consultation process should open by Friday 16th March 2018 and can be foundat applications/919/view planning applications/1. The reference number is 18/00623/OUT.

Agreement reached between the BBA and North Yorkshire and Bradford Councils
The Burley Bridge Association is also pleased to report that agreement, in principle, has now been reached with both North Yorkshire and Bradford Councils about how to address any legal obstacles to the project being completed. This has followed a number of constructive discussions and meetings over the past year involving officers and elected members. Both Councils have confirmed that they appreciate the strategic value of a safe, all-year-round crossing of the River Wharfe at the proposed location.

Certain legal requirements will need to have been met before the Councils can use certain powers that they have under, Acts of Parliament, to secure construction and future maintenance of the bridge. These include being able to demonstrate that all the funds are in place necssary for the construction and maintenance, including any incidental legal and administrative costs incurred by the Councils. The Association recognises the financial constraints that both Councils are operating under and is not seeking to rely on financial input from them.

We are, therefore, now able to begin the next challenge of raising the necessary funds to enable the bridge to be built which we currently estimate to be in the region of £400,000.

We are grateful to many people and a number of organisations who have helped us get to this crucial stage. These include the large group of members and supporters, most of whom are Burley residents, who have remained intensely loyal to the campaign and to the aspiration of creating a safe crossing of the river. They also include bodies such as the Ramblers, Burley Parish Council, Burley-in-Wharfedale Community Trust and Burley and District Chamber of Trade (BADCOT)who have provided bucket loads of support, advice and encouragement. Crucial has been the time and energy given by past and present committee members (latterly trustees) over the past 21 years, working hard to find solutions to what, at times, seemed overwhelming obstacles. More recently, we have benefitted from close working relationships with officers from both Councils across a number of departments and have been guided by excellent advice from our legal advisor. Finally, we thank our MP, Philip Davies, whose long-term support and perseverance resulted in specific suggestions from the Minister of State for Housing and Planning which helped form the basis of the recent agreement with the Councils.

Next steps
Trustees will now begin the process of devising a fundraising strategy for the next three to four years. This will include holding community events on a regular basis as well as applying for grants and sponsorship from corporate bodies and trusts. We will need to demonstrate in these applications strong community support including from donations.

The workload of trustees is also going to, inevitably, increase and we would welcome any offers of assistance - either by joining the committee as a trustee or by contributing some skills or time to help with a specific task. For instance, this could include helping upgrade and manage the website and social media, helping organise or run fundraising events or helping manage our membership database. If you are interested, please email us or get in touch with one of the trustees for informal discussion.

Annual General Meeting 2018
Our last AGM in May 2017 gave trustees the mandate for carrying on with the bridge campaign and we have now achieved the main objective that was identified of securing council agreement to use their statutory powers.

Our next AGM is on 24th April at Burley Library, starting at 7.30 p.m. Please come and celebrate what we have achieved over the past year and help us formulate our strategy for the next important and final phase of the campaign. We look forward to seeing you there!

Posted: 13-Mar-2018 on behalf of the BBA


Winter 2017/2018Newsletter for Members and Supporters

We invite you to renew your membership of the Burley Bridge Association for 2018. Please go to the "Join Us" section of the website to access the membership form. Thank you.

Revitalising and updating our membership list

Many of you will have been contacted by trustees during the Autumn in order to update contact information held by the BBA, particularly email addresses. Thank you to everyone who has provided these details which will help us to keep in more regular contact with members and supporters in the future and keep our costs down. We will continue, however, to send paper copies of membership renewal notices and Newsletters to those who have requested them.

Trustees have also decided to make renewal of annual membership of the BBA a bit simpler. Previously, renewal was on the anniversary of joining. From 2018, membership will run from January 1st to December 31st for everyone. Although we are a bit late this year, renewal reminders will be sent out in future during December. We hope you agree that this is a more foolproof system and our new Treasurer, Ian Hanson, looks forward to receiving your 2018 subs shortly! They can be paid by cheque or by bank transfer - please use your surname as the reference.

We have also revised our membership fees, with a flat rate of £10 a year for a household and £100 for life membership. This is a modest increase, our first for very many years. Our membership application form is in the "Join Us" section of the website, including a Gift Aid declaration. Since becoming a registered charity in August 2015, our finances have received quite a boost from Gift Aid so if you are eligible, please complete this section to enable us to make a claim.

Use of statutory powers by North Yorkshire and Harrogate Councils
With support and advice from our legal adviser, we have undertaken information sharing, consultation and discussion with both North Yorkshire and Harrogate Councils about potential council use of new and existing statutory powers. These would be used, if necessary, to enable access to the northern bank for construction purposes. Contact has included officers and councillors and our MP, Philip Davies, has been involved. We have also benefited from useful advice from Alok Sharma MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning. Further meetings are planned shortly including with the Principal Engineer for Bradford Council. Significant progress has been made and we will continue to keep members and supporters fully informed.

Renewal of Planning Consent for the bridge
The BBA has begun the process of renewing planning consent for the bridge with both Harrogate and Bradford Councils. After consultation with planning officers in both councils, we are re-submitting the same plans as in 2014 with a supplementary report detailing subsequent changes. Our bridge designer/engineer, Stephen James, has very generously agreed to continue to support the project through its next phase on an unpaid basis. We will advise you of the Application Numbers for both councils as soon as we receive them. Please then write in to support the project as the numbers of supporters and objectors is taken into consideration.

Fundraising events
We will advise you of planned future fundraising and profile raising events in our next Newsletter. In the mantime, do please get in touch if you have any questions or queries.

Posted: 02-Feb-2018 on behalf of the BBA


The campaign continues!

Following our AGM last month and a subsequent trustee meeting, we thought we should write to let all our members know what has been decided for the campaign to build a safe crossing over the River Wharfe at Burley-in-Wharfedale.

The campaign for the bridge has been going for more than 20 years now and progress has been painfully slow. Nonetheless, we have never been so close to our goal as now. We have:

  • planning permission in place for the agreed design of the footbridge

  • the willingness of the landowner on the south bank (Burley side), the West Riding Anglers, to work with the BBA - they also own all the river bed at the site

  • confirmation that the boardwalk access to the bridge on the north side need not extend beyond
    the width of the existing right of way

  • significant support for the bridge in the Burley-in-Wharfedale Neighbourhood Plan

  • reference to the bridge in the Right of Way Improvement Plans for both local authorities
    Bradford and North Yorkshire

  • a properly constituted charity in place to run the campaign and a small base of funds to keep
    the campaign going for the moment

  • a successful litter management system for the river site thanks to partnership between local
    residents, landowners, Bradford Council and the BBA.

But, of course, we also have opposition from the landowner of the land on the north bank (Askwith side).

Four options for the future were presented to members in advance of the AGM and at the AGM itself. There was a clear majority of views in favour of actively continuing the campaign for the bridge rather than end or mothball it until circumstances change.

The proposal now, therefore, is to do the following:

  • Talk again with both local authorities and, in particular, to encourage North Yorkshire or Bradford on their behalf, to consider if they can use their statutory powers to allow the construction of the north access to the bridge to be undertaken without the permission of the landowner

  • Consider accessing paid legal advice and support to complement the informal legal advice we have already received to ensure local authorities fulfil their statutory requirements

  • Renew the planning permission with both local authorities

  • Sound out local key partners on the feasibility of a wider group, putting together a Burley Riverside Local Management Plan

  • Communicate widely with local people and revitalise membership of the campaign

  • Continue with local fundraising to maintain the campaign

  • Seek new trustees to bring a fresh approach; any relevant skills would be welcome but, in particular, we would welcome people with experience in property law, finance, engineering and website and communications

We would welcome any questions, comments and support. Please contact Niccola Swan, either by email or post. Many thanks for your continuing support.

Niccola Swan
Arc East, Moor Lane, Burley-in-Wharfedale, LS29 7AF

Posted: 21-Jun-2017 on behalf of the BBA



YORKSHIRE'S best-known international athletes are backing the campaign for a better crossing of the River Wharfe at Burley-in-Wharfedale. Olympic triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee have given their support to the efforts by the Burley Bridge Association (BBA) for a safer means than the stepping stones which carry the public right-of -way.

The Brownlees have used the Wharfe valley as a training ground since they were young and know the river at Burley-in-Wharfedale.

They agree that a bridge will be a safer way of crossing a wide and mercurial river.

Chairman of the BBA, Peter Bayer, said: We are grateful to Alistair and Jonny for their high-profile support. Most walkers and many local organisations in Burley-in-Wharfedale want a bridge. Our plans have approval from the local authorities on both sides of the river. We think the stepping stones which carry the right of way don't work for most people. The river will always have the last word and the Wharfe is unpredictable. Its level can rise and fall quickly depending on conditions higher up the valley. A bridge will be an amenity which most people will appreciate.

Posted: 09-Apr-2017 on behalf of the BBA


Burley Bridge Briefing December 2016

This has been another eventful year in the campaign to build a footbridge over the River Wharfe in Burley-in-Wharfedale.

Litter problem sorted
Bradford Council installed one of their litter bins at the end of Leatherbank just before Easter this year, financially supported by the BBA. The site was suggested by one of the residents of Greenholme Cottages and consent given by the landowner, West Riding Anglers' Association and by Derwent Hydro who lease the property at this point. The Bradford Council team responsible for emptying the village's litter bins, agreed to empty the bin on a weekly basis even though they would not normally collect litter from private property. The BBA also gained consent from both north and south bank landowners to install signs requesting people remove their litter and dog waste.

BBA volunteers have continued to regularly monitor the north bank and the area around the litter bin over the year, supported by a local resident who allows us to use his garage to store spare bags and tools. The good news is that most people using the north bank for recreation are now showing respect for the site and are using the bin with little or nothing being left behind. On busy weekends, when demand for the bin exceeds capacity, volunteers bag us the excess to keep the bin area tidy. Dog walkers, using Leatherbank and the Goit footpath, are also showing more responsibility by using the bin rather than leaving poo bags alongside Leatherbank or the path alongside the Goit, one of the complaints raised by local residents. Thanks are due to everyone involved in helping to resolve this chronic problem.

Anglers and BBA hold disscussions about the bridge
West Riding Anglers' Association (WRA) met with a BBA trustee during the Summer and, as a result, positive consultations with their membership have agreed to further joint discussions and meetings. These will look at the benefits the WRA will gain by allowing the bridge to be built. The WRA own all of the river bed from just west of Burley weir to the end of the north bank field, along with the south bank, the Goit and the footpath alongside to Greenholme Mill. This has been a particularly significant development, given the south bank ramp, all of the bridge structure and most of the boardwalk to the north bank will be on their property. We hope these discussions will include lease arrangements, in due course, along with implementing measures to deter trespass onto their land by fencing and signage.

Follow the bridge on Facebook
You can now follow development about the bridge on our new Facebook page We will continue to provide up to date information our our website but Facebook will provide another more immediate means of alerting our supporters to new developments and promoting our fundraising events and activities.

Running for the bridge
An inter-school cross-country running event, hosted this year by Ghyll Royd School, has led to a generous donation by the school to the bridge campaign following the sale of refreshments to race particupants and supporters. The gift has highlighted not only the use that schools in the village could make of a safe all-year-round crossing of the river for sport and environmental study, but also the potential use by the many individual runners in the village and for local running clubs.

Fundraising and events
Following on from being registered as a charity last year, we are now receiving regular reimbursement of gift aid on donations received. Please ensure you fill in the appropriate gift aid form when you donate, giving us details of your address so that we can capitalise on this additional, valuable source of income.

We have had two superb musical evenings this Autumn to raise funds for the bridge campaign. On Thursday, 6th October, musicians from Lower Wharfedale Ramblers and their friends, showed off their many talents with an evening of classical and contemeporary music and song. The well attended concert at St. Mary's Church, which was the second BBA fundraiser provided by the three performing groups, was generously sponsored by Majestic Wines.

Our second musical treat was on Saturday, l9th November, at the Queen's Hall, when Otley Brass Band provided an evening of rousing, sometimes soulful, always entertaining music of the highest standard. There was again a good turn out from bridge supporters and a raffle helped swell the proceeds. We are grateful for the generous support of Ilkley Chiropractic Clinic

We will have a stall at Burley Christmas Market and lights switch-on in Grange Park on Saturday, 3rd December. Please come and visit us and catch up with the latest news!

Posted: 30-Nov-2016 on behalf of the BBA


Summer 2016 Newsletter for Members and Supporters

Thank you to everyone who came along to our AGM in May and especially to Colin Speakman who gave an excellent talk. It was well attended and members were updated on the present situation with the bridge. As everyone will know, we have planning permission although this is time limited. We are making good progress with the landowner on the south side but moving only very slowly on the north side.

Our efforts to move ahead with landowners are focused on litter collection, stopping illegal parking and investigating the erection of fences to stop people wandering onto private land. This is a very busy time at the river as many families and groups like to picnic and swim there. Litter can be a significant problem so do please feel free to come along with some bags and gloves and help us collect it up.

We are pleased to report that we have now received our first payment of Gift Aid since we became a Registered Charity.

Members and supporters will be aware of the urgency that the campaign faces. Planning permission lasts for three years and cannot be extended unless work has commenced. We now have less than two years to get the bridge under way. More support on the fundraising side would be a great help.

We hope soon to be in a position to make some larger bid applications. Perhaps you have some experience of applying to funding bodies and can help us in this direction?

Community fundraising demonstrates commitment from local people and we thank you for your support so far. We have four events coming up and would very much welcome your contributions and attendance. Assistance with running these events and offers of raffle prizes for the coffee morning and concert will be welcome.

Saturday 27th August - 9.30am-11.30am
Coffee morning at St. Mary's Parish Centre, Station Road, Burley-in-Wharfedale

Saturday 17th September 10am-12 midday
Community organisations event at the Queen's Hall, Burley

Thursday 6th October - 7.30pm
Wharfedale Ramblers' Concert in St.Mary's Parish Church, Burley

Saturday 19th November - 7.30pm
Concert by Otley Brass Band in Queen's Hall, Burley

Our committee is quite stretched and we would welcome help in various ways, particularly to support our fundraising appeal and with legal / planning advice. Any support in these areas would help the campaign to achieve its aims. Meetings are held at monthly intervals in Burley on a Tuesday evening. Please contact the Secretary or any committee member if you are interested.

Thank you again for your support.

Peter Young, Secretary
07949 645494 / 01943 466858

A BBA application form and Gift Aid Declaration form are available in the Join Us section of the website.

Posted: 04-Aug-2016 on behalf of the BBA


Burley Bridge Briefing January 2016

The following is an update on the progress of the campaign for the footbridge set within the context of new developments in the village itself:

The campaign to build a footbridge across the River Wharfe in Burley-in-Wharfedale has reached an important stage as
- planning permission was ganted by both Harrogate Council(December 2014)and Bradford Council (February 2015) after thorough consultation
- the Burley Bridge Association (BBA) became a registered charity in August 2015, committee members becoming Trustees and including representation from the Parish Council and Community Trust
- all the main organisations representing the Burley community have now publicly committed themselves to supporting a new footbridge
- the challenging task of finding sources of funding for the construction and long-term maintenance of the bridge has now begun

This is happening at a time of planning for considerable change in the village including the Greenholme Mill development and associated footpath improvements, the Greenway walking and cycling route between Burley and Otley and the proposed expansion of housing on the west side of the village.

This briefing seeks to update public knowledge of recent developments about the bridge campaign in the context of these other developments and aims to promote discussion with landowners and local residents in order to seek solutions for existing anti-social behaviour on Leatherbank and the river area which are thought to be made worse once a bridge is built.

Becoming a charity
We became a charity in August 2015. Our charitable objects state: 'For the public benefit to build a bridge over the River Wharfe at Burley-in-Wharfedale on the site of the stepping stones which will provide safe year-round access to rights-of-way in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'. Being a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) brings a number of advantages but also responsibilities for the BBA. We will be able to claim gift aid in future from individual donors paying tax and apply for the large grants only available to registered charities. These will be necessary to fund the bridge and its life-time maintenance. Trustees will be publicly accountable for their activities in achieving the chartitable objects. The work of the BBA will become more visible through the Charity Commission website ( as well as with our own site (

A history of public support
There has been a high level of support for a footbridge across the Wharfe by village residents dating back to the C19th. More recently:
- a petition by a local resident in l975 of approximately half the households in Burley attracted 2000 signatures supporting a footbridge
- a Burley Bridge Association survey in l998 of Burley residents found a majority of 4 to 1 in favour of a bridge
- the Parish Council Village Design statement consultation in 2005 (where residents were asked to prioritise 37 options for village improvements) led to the footbridge proposals gaining second overall priority
- an extensive leafleting campaign in May 2009, asking residents to indicate if they were in favour of a bridge or not, only led to one objection being received
- residents and ex-residents generously contributed 23,700 between 2012 and 2014 towards the cost of designs and preparation of plans for Bradford and Harrogate Councils
- most recently, 83% of representations during the 2014 public consultation period about the plans for the bridge were supportive, the majority of these being from Burley residents or from neighbouring communites.

Organisational support
Local councils and bodies working on behalf of Burley residents and businesses have also given their support:

The Rights-of-Way Improvement Plan of Brsadford MDC states 'A major cross-boundary issue is the crossing of the River Wharfe at Burley-in-Wharfedale and this links to the cross border issues with regard to high density settlements on the Bradford side and the lack of connection in some cases on the NYCC side'.

The Rights of Way Improvement Plan of North Yorkshire CC recognises 'the high potential demand for access to North Yorkshire from neighbourhood urban fringes and other populated areas of West Yorkshsire, expressed by the wish for more river crossing points such as Burley-in-Wharfedale, as it would provide a strategic route into the Nidderdale AONB'.

Burley-in-Wharfedale Parish Council confirmed on 14th March 2012 'its commitment to a safe, year-round crossing of the River Wharfe'. It gave full support for the bridge during the 2014/2015 planning process with a number of their recommendations included as conditions in the planning approval. Parish Council commitment to the project is referred to in the recently drafted Neighbourhood Plan for Bradford MDC.

Burley-in-Wharfedale Community Trust (BWCT) has indicated its support for a safe crossing of the Wharfe. Most recently, the BWCT has offered to take over responsibility for the maintenance of the bridge from the Burley Bridge Association following construction and this was accepted by Bradford MDC planners as a realistic and sensible proposal.

Burley and District Chamber of Trade (BADCOT) has given its support for a bridge including through planning representation. Individual traders in the village regularly display posters for the BBA and businesses in the area frequently contribute to fund-raising activities.

Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAONB)gave its support for the bridge during planning representation.

Addressing concerns
Landowners and residents close to the site of the bridge have, however, historically expressed concerns about the bridge and their fears that it would exacerbate existing anti-social behaviour around the site and its approaches.

As a result of objections raised during the public consultation, both Planning Committees attached conditions to the approval of the plans in order to mitigate some of the issues raised. Although concerns about the siting, design, safety and durability of the bridge were not considered in the main to have validity, bridge designers, Ramboll UK, confirmed that some modifications could be made, for instance, to improve accessibility. The siting of the bridge to directly link public rights-of-way on both banks was acknowledged as the only viable option and ensures that bridleway access is not compromised. While the river is one of the fastest rising (and falling) river in the country, as evident during the storms and subsequent flooding towards the end of 2015, the bridge has been designed to fully withstand such extreme conditions and meets all Environment Agency requirements and national safety standards for such structures.

A consistent concern by local residents is that increased footfall generated by the bridge would lead to an increase in litter. Regular litter collection by the BBA on the north bank (Askwith side), Leatherbank, the Goit and surrounding footpaths since March 2015 confirms that litter does currently pose a significant problem in the area, particularly on Bank Holiday weekends and during school holidays. The problem is mostly managed well in the rest of Burley, thanks to our street cleaner and by well sited and regularly emptied litter bins, recently extended in number. However, Leatherbank, the Goit and the land of both sides of the river are private property and thus, technically, outside of Bradford Council's responsibility for litter collection and bin emptying. Irrespective of the installation of a bridge,the existing problems may get worse due to the increase in walkers that the Greenhome Mills and Associated footpath development will bring along with the projected substantial increase in housing on the west side of the village.

A proposal is currently under discussion, therefore, which would see the installation of a new litter bin by Bradford Council at an agreed location between Leatherbank and the Goit. The bin would be regularly emptied by a small group of volunteers as the bin would be sited on private property and the bagged contents collected by the local authority household waste collection service. Co-operation between the Burley Bridge Association, the Parish Council, Bradford Council, the Community Trust, West Riding Anglers, Greenholme residents and landowners could ensure the proposal is tried and fully evaluated over the forthcoming year.

Car Parking
Leatherbank and local residents indicated to planning officers their concerns that a bridge would lead to an increase in unauthorised parking along the verge of the privately owned road which is single track for most of its length. This potentially inhibits access by emergency and larger delivery vehicles and can restrict passing of local residents' vehicles. There is current restriction on access from the Generous Pioneer roundabout by two sets of partial gates and some private road signage. There is a third gated access at the end of Leatherbank with further private road signage. The Leatherbank verge is also regularly mown to indicate it is private property. However, these provisions do not appear to deter car-using visitors to the river from unauthorised parking, particularly during Summer wekends and school holidays. The Burley Bridge Association is willing to pay for improved signage, robust enough to deter vandalism, to try and address the issue. We are also prepared to look at funding other deterrent measures, in agreement with local residents, which could help resolve the problem. It is acknowledged by the Parish Council that public car parking in the village is generally a problem, and providing better opportunity for car parking for visitors to the river area is under consideration for both the east and west end of the village.

Increase in visitor numbers to Burley Weir area
Concerns have also been expressed to planners that the bridge may be promoted as a tourist attraction rather than just being a means by which walkers cross the river. This would potentially increase the numbers of visitors to the area using the bridleway and footpaths to the river and detract from the pleasure of living on a quiet lane in a peaceful and attractive part of the village. The Burley Bridge Association accepts that publicity following the construction of the bridge will inevitably lead to an initial increase in visitors but believes that this will moderate over time. The sole purpose of the bridge campaign has been to create a safe year-round crossing of the river in order for the public to freely access the many walking opportuities on the north bank within the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Inevitably, year-round access will, therefore, result in an increase in walkers, including between Autumn and Spring when access is normnally prevented due to high water levels. Walkers are acknowledged by most people, however, as being generally responsible in terms of litter and unlikely to be the source of other anti-social behaviour. While the bridge will inevitably feature in walking booklets and route descriptions, there is no wish by any Burley organisation to promote the bridge as a tourist attraction. The BBA is keen though to discuss with landowners and local residents how to address the existing conflict between the north bank and river area being viewed as a public recreational area during the Summer months and the reality of it being actively farmed, private property and a wildlife habitat.

Expansion of Recreation and current plans
Burley continues to grow as a community and the pressure on all the green spaces in and around the village for a variety of recreational use continues to increase. Thanks to the work of the Parish Council, the Community Trust, predecessor organisations and bodies such as Wharfedale Naturalists, there is now a legacy of attractive, accessible and environmentally important open space in walking distance of the village centre. These include the Village Green, Burley House Field, Sun Lane Nature Reserve, Scalebor Park recreation area and the Recreation Ground. Smaller, but equally important areas, such as the Pudding Tree Garden, the Jennings Bequest Garden on Main Street and the recently renovated Fountain area at the corner of Main Street and Station Road are also valued local assets enjoyed freely by all residents. All these areas are well managed, largely through voluntary effort.

West Riding Anglers also spend considerable volunteer time improving and maintaining the popular Goit footpath between Leatherbank and Greenholme Mill and enhancing this important wildlife habitat. Burley Walkers are Welcome are working with Bradford Council and Ramblers to secure a number of footpath improvements around the village to improve accessibility and encourage use.

Current Plans
- The proposed Greenway cycle and walking route between Burley and Otley will provide a major recreational asset for the village. Steps to secure the route are well advanced with the Parish Council recently acquiring part of the old railway track route from Bradford Council.
- A riverside walk has been approved as spart of plans for the Greenholme Mill development.
- The Environment Agency (EA) is planning with a number of partners, incuding the Burley Bridge Association and Anglers' groups, to install a fish pass at Burley Weir. Once Otley fish pass is completed, Burley Weir will be the main impediment to fish migration and spawning in the Upper Wharfe. The EA hope to undertake construction work at the same time as the bridge is constructed to minimise disruption to the environment and to local residents.
- A bridge will enable significant access to additional recreational opportunities north of the village in the Nidderdale Area of Outstandidng Natural Beauty. Transfer of responsibility after construction to the BWCT will ensure the bridge becomes fully integrated into the village portfolio of well managed and maintained community assets.

Next Steps
The Burley Bridge Association acknowledges the importance of involving and reaching agreement with local landowners and residents about how to proceed in this next phase of the project. This is to ensure a bridge does not make existing anti-social problems in the area worse, that construction is undertaken in a way which minimises disruption and is sympathetic to their particular needs and issues and that any use of private property is carefully planned and appropriately compensated for. The high level of co-operation between village organisations and the BBA should give local residents some optimism that through working together we can find solutions to existing anti-social behaviour and ensure that a bridge does not exacerbate these probjems in the future.

We will be making direct contact with all interested parties to offer opportunities to discuss the issues raised in this briefing over the next few weeks. If you would like more information about the bridge in the meantime, please see the Q and A section on the BBA website:

If you would like to arrange a meeting, talk with a BBA trustee or want to comment on the contents of this briefing, please contact David Asher on 01943 862965 or

Posted: 22-Jan-2016 on behalf of the BBA


Donations made to the BBA for the month of October 2015

Colin Speakman, BBA's Vice-President, gave a generous donation to the BBA at the musical evening held on 15th October at the Salem Church.

We received a cheque for 190 from Waitrose at Otley as the BBA was one of their designated local charities for the month of September. Our thanks to them for their continued support.

Posted: 11-Nov-2015 on behalf of the BBA


The Burley Bridge Association is now a Registered Charity No. 1163568

The BBA achieved charitable status on Tuesday, 15th September, 2015, which now enables gift aid to be claimed on donations.

Posted: 18-Sep-2015 on behalf of the BBA


A presentation on 25.2.15 by David Asher to Keighley & Shipley Planning Panel on behalf of BBA's planning application for a new footbridge

My name is David Asher, resident of Burley for 22 years, a member of the Burley Bridge Association Committee. It is perhaps useful to say at this point that the majority of the committee are also Burley residents, as are threequarters of our membership.

I think everyone living in Burley agrees that a decision about the bridge has now to be made. It's been a long haul over the past 18 years since the current campaign started and we now need to move forward. The planning process on both sides of the river has enabled a thorough public debate and members of the panel will have seen the range of views expressed for and against. The BBA was delighted that Harrogate Council had full confidence in the proposals by approving the plans and we believe the conditions they attached are sensible and achievable. In terms of the Bradford application, the panel should similarly be confident in the proposals. In particular, that the plans have the support of all the village's representaive bodies such as the Parish Council, the Community Trust and the Trade Association and by the majority of the residents with around 83% of respondents supporting the proposals. And in case there is any doubt, the majority of the respondents are from the village and the remainder are mostly from our immediate neighbours.

So why has the village retained faith in the bridge proposals and the BBA, despite two previously approved planning applications and two designs not proceeding? What's different now? Well, the bridge design for one. The last design was given a big thumbs down by most of Burley. Most people now agree though, that the current design is proportionate for the attractive setting and for the proposed use as a safe and reliable means of accessing the footpaths and beautiful countryside on the north bank, including the recently re-opened Askwith Arms public house.

What is also different are the plans following construction. The bridge is designed to be tough and robust but also to have low maintenance needs. Nevertheless, the BBA appreciates that it could not expect Harrogate or Bradford Council to pay for future repairs and maintenance given funding pressures and had, therefore, anticipated it would need to include in the fundraising appeal enough to cover lifetime costs. However, we were then approached at the end dof last year by the Burley Community Trust who offered to take on responsibility for managing the funds and schedule for bridge maintenance. This has now been approved in principle by Trustees who have built up an impressive portfolio of village assets and annual events, and agreement has been reached with the Trust's insurance company.

What isn't different in these proposals are the core reasons for the bridge at this particular location. The stones, irrespective of their original purpose, have provided an established legal right of way for decades and an historic crossing point, probably for centuries. Burley generations have enjoyed access to the beautiful river and the paths beyond. But the stones are now more often a barrier than not. They were inaccessible due to flood damage for a number of years until repaired by this Council in June 2013. They remain an unpredictable and potentially unsafe crossing for many months of the year, especially through winter including this year. And even in their repaired state, many Burley people are anxious about using them. The badly eroded north bank also provides another barrier. And please remember that a 14 year-old Burley boy, John, died in 1968 attempting to cross the flooded stones to get home.

If the panel approve the plans, the BBA is well aware of the considerable challenges ahead, not least in fundraising. But we have an enthusiastic and committed supporter base in the village and in the many walking groups in Bradford District and beyond, that would benefit from a safe and reliable crossing. So we are optimistic that sufficient funds can be raised. However, and most importantly, we also face the challenge of addressing any remaining concerns that landowners and those village residents living closest to the proposed site have, such as the bridge may lead to an increase in litter, inappropriate car parking on private land and anti-social behaviour.

These are thought to be problems already, but little appears to have been done so far to assess the true nature of the problem and local residents and landowners probably feel that these issues haven't been taken seriously enough in the past by the BBA or the village as a whole. We would hope, therefore, that the strong commitment by the key village bodies and individuals to the bridge and its future care and maintenance will prompt an early and constructive dialogue with the nearest residents. Joint planning to ensure disruption during construction activity is minimised will also be a priority.

In summary, this is probably the final opportunity to create an important recreational asset for the village that will encourage healthy walking opportunities for Burley residents of all ages and backgrounds and for the wider Bradford District population as well as support the commercial health of our village. Please support this application.

David Asher: Burley Bridge Association

Posted: 05-Mar-2015 on behalf of the BBA


Great News: Planning Permission granted for the proposed new footbridge over the River Wharfe

Planning permission has now been granted by both Bradford Metropolitan District Council and Harrogate Borough Council for the proposad footbridge over the River Wharfe at Leatherbank, Burley-in-Wharfedale.

Bradford MDC Planning Dept. gave their approval of the plans and the decision was taken by Bradford Councillors at a meeting in Keighley Town Hall on 25.2.15. Harrogate Borough Council's decision to grant planning permission was taken in December.

Thanks to everyone who supported the planning application and either wrote or emailed the two authorities on behalf of the footbridge.

Posted: 26-Feb-2015 on behalf of the BBA


Visit of Janet Street-Porter to the site of the new proposed footbridge over the River Wharfe at Burley-in-Wharfedale

As president of the BBA, Janet visited the site of the proposed footbridge over the stepping stones on Friday, 31st October, 2014. Janet walked down from the Askwith Arms with members of the committee, including Colin Speakmen, BBA's Vice President, and other supporters. The party were met at the stepping stones by a representative from BBC's Look North programme. Janet, Colin Speakman and Keith Wadd from the Ramblers' Association were interviewed about their support for the proposed footbridge. An edited version of the interview appeared on the following Tuesday evening's Look North programme and various other TV channels.

Posted: 27-Nov-2014 on behalf of the BBA


Parish Council Presentation

A committee member of the Burley Bridge Association gave the following presentation to the Burley-in-Wharfedale Parish Council Planning Committee which met to consider the plans for a footbridge over the River Wharfe at Leatherbank on 3.11.14.

"I THINK ALL OF US IN BURLEY AGREE THAT A DECISION ABOUT THE BRIDGE HAS NOW TO BE MADE. We need to move forward. We've had a thorough debate through the planning websites and councillors will hopefully have seen the range of opinions, currently 80/20 in favour including by Burley Residents. But how does the BBA respond to the concerns?

Well, there is no other possible location. The stones, irrespective of their original purpose, have provided an estalished legal right-of-way for decades, an historic crossing point probably for centuries. My mother and Burley generations before and since have enjoyed access to the beautiful river, Askwith's pub, and the paths beyond. But the stones are more often a barrier than not. They were inaccessible due to flood damage for a number of years until repaired in June 2013. They remain an unpredictable and potentially unsafe crossing for many months of the year, especially through winter. And even in their repaired state, many Burley people are anxious about using them. And please remember that a 14 year-old Burley boy, John, died in 1968 attempting to cross the flooded stones to Burley.

WHAT ABOUT risk of damage to wildlife during construction or in the long-term: the thorough ecology report says impact is neutral or potentially positive when mitigating action is taken. We would want to consult carefully with the landowner to ensure that such mitigation work enhances the wildlife through landscaping and enhancing habitat. Bridge supporters are as concerned about nature as residents at Greenholme and Leatherbank and others are and would not be supporting the project otherwise.

WHAT ABOUT bridge durability given its location. Have Ramboll got the height, position of the piers or materials wrong? Will it be swept away or damaged in the next one-in-100 years major flood? Well, pedestrian bridges in York, Lancaster, Derby, Norwich, etc., built of similar materials by Ramboll in high flood risk areas are still standing and have collected numerous awards in the meantime.The Oresund crossing between Denmark and Sweden hasn't collapsed yet. The new Forth crossing will be a slightly larger bridge than ours but we should feel privileged that such a prestigious company has created for us just as graceful and durable a structure which will enhance our village and stand the test of time.

WHAT ABOUT litter, car parking, anti-social behaviour? One Greenholme cottage resident suggests litter is not a problem at the moment but others disagree with him. In my visits through most of last summer, I also found the problem overstated. But whatever the truth, if it is a problem now then it is a Burley problem now and we and the Parish Council need to be addressing it now with the new landowner. The police tell me the last time they were called out by a local resident because of trespassing and potential anti-social behaviour was Whitsun 2010, and this was dealt with promptly and effectively. They say they will always respond to future concerns rather than North Yorkshire. We also agree that illegal car parking should be deterred on Leatherbank. Let's look together at how to support residents to do that. The BBA certainly does not subscribe to the view though that Burley young people and adults will abuse the responsibilities which come with getting all-year-round access to the rights-of-way on the north bank. On the contrary, more users should help better policing of the site.

FINALLY, who will the bridge be for? Well, most of Burley gave the wheelchair accessible option a big 'thumbs down' as totally unsuitable for the site. This present option though has the support of the majority who want to experience nature, gentle short walks or longer distances, to continue the Burley tradition of summer evening strolls for a drink in Askwith or winter weekend lunches. And yes, for folk outside of Burley who want to plan their walks safe in the knowledge that they can get there and back without risk of drowning or an extra five-mile walk via dangerous lanes to Ben Rhydding or Otley. The bridge will be good for Burley business and good for the health of the residents. It is the right bridge in the right location and now is definitely the right time.
Please support this application."

Posted: 11-Nov-2014 on behalf of the BBA


Janet Street-Porter visits Burley on 14th September, 2013

"JANET STEPS UP CALLS FOR NEW BRIDGE", was the headline in the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, following a visit to Burley-in-Wharfedale by the Burley Bridge Association President Janet Street-Porter on Saturday September 14.

"The Celebrity MasterChef finalist put her best foot forward in support of the campaign to build a bridge at Burley," continued the paper.

This was the latest of several visits by Janet since she she agreed to become the BBA's President in 1998.

The BBA rally started at the Generous Pioneer pub and after an introduction by David Asher of the BBA committee, Janet welcomed over 70 supporters and local people.

She led a walk from the pub and down Leather Bank to the stepping stones site of the proposed Burley Bridge. Also present was Stephen James of bridge engineers Ramboll UK who have designed the bridge which the BBA hope will be the subject of a planning application to the local authorities on both sides of the River Wharfe.

The boundary between West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire runs along the middle of the river.

Janet said, "This is the closest we have been to getting this much-needed bridge built. Despite the obvious benefits to local people and to walkers from further afield, the campaign has had to overcome many obstacles."

She added that there was a need for circular walks in the area and highlighted the dangers of relying on stepping stones to cross a fast-flowing river like the Wharfe.

David Asher said, "Janet has given us an excellent boost to the campaign. Let's hope we proceed to get approval from the respective planning authorities soon. We are urging anyone who has concerns to come forward and discuss these with us."

At the time of the event the BBA were about 500 short of the amount needed to submit an application. Several donations were received from those present on the day.

In mid-September the Wharfe was still running low and the tops of most of the stones were slightly above water. Several people were crossing over; nevertheless one child and one dog fell in the river...

Posted: 07-Oct-2013 on behalf of the BBA


Committee meeting minutes

Our latest committee meeting minutes are available from the About Us - Minutes page.

Posted: 19-May-2013 on behalf of the BBA


Appeal Update

The appeal, launched in October last year in order to raise funds for submission of the latest bridge design for planning approval, now stands at over 19,000.

A representative of Ramboll, the bridge engineers, and a member of the Environment Agency, are together visiting the Bridge site this month (February) to determine the extent of the flood modelling required for planning permission. The outcome of this meeting will determine the cost of the planning submission which we hope will be less than the projected 30,000.

The BBA is most grateful to people who have already made donations. We are now appealing to people who may have been considering donating but, for whatever reason, never managed to do so.

We are close to the figure required. Help make the footbridge a reality by donating now, either by the PayPal button on our website or send a cheque to BBA, c/o 23 Hall Drive, Burley-in-Wharfedale LS29 7LR.

Many thanks

The Committee

Posted: 18-Feb-2013 on behalf of the BBA


Progress of the Appeal

The appeal for donations towards the cost of the planning application for the current design of the single suspension footbridge over the River Wharfe at Greenholme, Burley-in-Wharfedale, has now topped 16,000. Appeal letters are now being sent to all Askwith residents and an article about the appeal, plus the appeal letter itself, will appear in the next issue of the West Riding Rambler which is circulated to all members of the Ramblers' Association living in the West Riding Area.

Posted: 22-Nov-2012 on behalf of the BBA


Boost for Bridge Campaign

The campaign for a bridge over the River Wharfe at Burley-in-Wharfedale has received a 10,000 boost. A supporter, who wishes to remain anonymous, has promised this sum to the Burley Bridge Association (BBA) to get planning permission for the latest designs.

The BBA need to raise around 30,000 to take the plans for a crossing at Greenholme Farm, Leather Bank in Burley, to a planning application. The public right of way lies across stepping stones which are impassable for most of the time and it is hoped that the latest pledge will boost the efforts for a safe, all-year-round crossing.

The BBA has decided to circulate residents in Burley as part of a fundraising drive as well as approaching other sources of funds.

Over the years the bridge campaign has received various gifts of money. Recently members were grateful for two donations amounting to l,500. The BBA's latest benefactor has happy memories of early days in Burley and feels a bridge would be an amenity to benefit the whole village.

The BBA welcomes more assistance for its work and would be happy to hear from anyone who can help the campaign. Contact

Articles, based on the press release, appeared in the following newspapers:

  • Telegraph & Argus on Wednesday, 22nd August
  • Evening Post on Thursday, 23rd August
  • Yorkshire Evening Post on Friday, 24th August
  • Ilkley Gazette on Thursday 23rd August

Posted: 27-Aug-2012 on behalf of the BBA


The Yorkshire Heritage Way

. . . is a local long-distance walk devised by the BBA which connects the two World Heritage sites in the county Saltaire and Fountains Abbey.

This is a splendid route through varied countryside which has already been walked in four stages during recent Otley Walking Festivals. We hope to publish the YHW route for people to follow. More details are on the website.

The first stage of the YHW, from Saltaire to the site of the proposed bridge over the River Wharfe in Burley, will be walked on Saturday September 22nd 2012. The walk will start at 9.30am from the Canal Bridge, Victoria Road, Saltaire. The distance is about 9 miles.

Everyone is welcome, moderate pace. Wear suitable clothing and bring food and drink. Saltaire can be reached by public transport. For more information contact

Posted: 26-Jul-2012 on behalf of the BBA


Burley Bridge Association Update Spring 2012

SINCE the pictures of the proposed ideas for a Burley Bridge by Ramboll UK were published last autumn we believe that most people feel that this is a design they can support. We have not had any adverse criticism and we feel there is a general hope that this will be successful. Many people are reassured by the involvement of Ramboll in this project. They are respected as a leading bridge engineering company with wide experience in the UK and abroad.

The proposed bridge is:

  • a suspension bridge designed without the need for anchor stays, of approx 42m span running directly over the existing stones
  • lightweight and visually unobtrusive over the water, but rugged and sturdy at its ends, where it may become flooded and take impact
  • clears prevailing flood limits over the main span
  • has minimal footprints on both banks, particularly to the north where land ownership issues exist
  • should be simple to construct and maintain
  • is very efficient and cost effective
  • the estimated approximate cost at August 2011 was 260,000.
It is obvious that raising money for the project is now our priority. We need at least 30,000 for Ramboll to take the scheme forward to a planning application.

The BBA recently made a presentation to the Burley Parish Council. The council support in principle a bridge.

The footbridge designs are available to view in the Gallery section.

Posted: 29-Apr-2012 on behalf of the BBA


'Walkers Are Welcome'

We would like to see Burley-in-Wharfedale become a 'Walkers Are Welcome' village. There is support in Burley for it, particularly among the trades people. Anyone who could take this scheme forward please get in touch.

Posted: 29-Apr-2012 on behalf of the BBA


© The Burley Bridge Association 2015. The Burley Bridge Association is a charity registered in England and Wales (1163568).