Historic battle between progress and tradition raging in Otley

Wharfedale Observer: The Editor George Hinton The Editor George Hinton

The battle between ‘progress’ and tradition has been waged for as long as humans have been able to cherish nature and use tools.

It is a conflict characterised by the perpetual tension between wanting to plough forwards into a potentially brighter future and the desire to preserve those things that experience, and previous generations, have taught us to value and respect. That tension was highlighted by two events in Otley this week.

The first was a well-attended public meeting called to air fears about housing plans that could see the town’s population jump up by 20 per cent.

Otley is justifiably proud of its long tradition as a market town, and its distinct, semi-rural character is obvious to any visitor – despite its close proximity to the city of Leeds.

So it is no wonder that plans to allow more than 1,110 homes to be built in the town over the next 15 years are causing concerns about how that will change the town and its identity.

The second was the news that one of the last remaining parts of the old Garnett’s paper mill, the mill owner’s cottage, is set to be knocked down.

The building, or at least its facade, was originally due to be kept as part of David Wilson Homes’ Garnett Wharfe housing development, but has now been judged ‘unsound’ and the developer is seeking permission to demolish.

That has inevitably saddened some in the town, dismayed at the prospect of losing another part of its heritage.

In both situations, there are indeed persuasive reasons for seeing the other side of the argument – Otley does after all need more (especially affordable) houses, and the Garnett Wharfe development is revitalising what had become a derelict and potentially dangerous riverside site.

The obvious retort, however, is at what cost to Otley’s character and sense of history? That is something only time will reveal.

Peak ambition for Horsforth roundabouts

Anyone who has experienced Horsforth roundabout in peak traffic will know how bad the tailbacks can be.

The problems along the already-congested A65 are compounded by the problems on the ring road, with traffic queueing bumper to bumper down to Rodley and then on to Thornbury Barracks.

So motorists should be delighted by the news that ‘congestion-busting’ work is to take place at not just one, but three, roundabouts in the local area.

Leeds City Council is planning to introduce lights at roundabouts in Horsforth, Rodley and Thornbury Barracks in schemes it describes as “ambitious”.

Work on the projects will begin this summer and will cost millions of pounds. The council is also warning about the possibility of some disruption – although every effort will be taken to minimise it and work will not be carried out at peak times.

However much effort is put into minimising problems there are bound to be some – but no matter how irritating it may be at times it will surely be worth it.

Motorists have suffered on those stretches of road for years with the prospect of the situation only ever getting worse. So it will surely be worth a short period of inconvenience for such major long-term benefits.

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