From Colin Burn, Ben Rhydding

ONE of the disturbing aspects of the proposals to build up to 130 houses on the Wheatley Grove greenbelt location is that such development is quite likely to obliterate a rare remaining open field stretch of one of Ilkley’s antiquities.

Of the many strollers and weekend walkers making their way up Ben Rhydding Drive in order to enjoy the moor, I suspect only a few will be aware that they are travelling on a converging path with, and then crossing, the course of a significant Roman road. Classified by the Roman Roads Research Association as RR72b, the road linked the fort, crossroads and settlement at Ilkley (called either Verbeia, Olicana or maybe both) with Tadcaster and York, or Eboracum. As the most direct route from relatively important West coast naval ports such as Lancaster and Ravenglass to that pivotal administrative centre and then onwards to the East coast at Brough, RR72b was no minor side route.

The probable line from just south of the Roman fort, (a small part of which can now be seen next to the Manor House) took RR72b under what is now the housing lying between Cowpasture Road and Springs Lane; a recent light detection and ranging image shows that it passes almost directly underneath Ben Rhydding Golf Clubhouse and then goes on towards Burley across the front of the Clevedon retirement community. Thus, building profitable houses with a desirable view of the golf course upon the uppermost section of the proposed development land at Wheatley Grove represents the probable permanent destruction for current or future generations, of any remains of the agger (road platform) within Ilkley/Ben Rhydding, since all of the road within the current permitted development delineation is already totally built over.