An Ilkley man has had his efforts to improve a main gateway into the town thwarted after falling foul of planning regulations.

Retired publisher Roger Yaxley, 78, issued a call to arms in June asking for help to transform flower beds on Station Plaza in Ilkley. Many people stepped forward and work began last week.

However, Mr Yaxley has been ordered to stop by Bradford Council who say he needs to gain planning permission.

Mr Yaxley maintains he talked at length with Bradford Council before commencing work and had secured permission for the raised flower beds.

"The Council said it was unadopted land and if you apply for planning permission it asks who the land belongs to and no one could tell me who owns it, so I couldn't apply for planning permission," he said. "The Council wanted it improving and sent me an email telling me to get on with it."

Mr Yaxley also met with conservation officers and employed a professional arborist to ensure the design would not damage protected trees.

But last week he received a call from a solicitor representing the landlord of nearby properties asking him about the work. This was followed by communication from Bradford Council's enforcement team who ordered him to stop immediately.

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: "We have been trying to work with Mr Yaxley and have advised him that he needed to gain planning permission for any work affecting public spaces.

"Unfortunately, Mr Yaxley chose to ignore that advice and started dismantling the brick planters on Station Plaza, Ilkley.

"We welcome community projects which aim to improve public spaces but it is important that people, however well-meaning, follow UK planning regulations.

"Station Plaza is within a conservation area, has protected trees and is the forecourt of a listed building.

"We hope Mr Yaxley will stop the work so we can agree a way forward and the area can be improved in a sensible and careful manner."

The town's MP John Grogan has stepped in to try and broker a way forward.

He said: "Mr Yaxley is a successful entrepreneur who is keen to invest in the centre of Ilkley.

"It is important that interested parties all get a chance to have a say on his plans. I shall be meeting him on Friday and I shall invite along elected councillors and organisations like the Ilkley Business Improvement District and the Ilkley Civic Society so a dialogue can begin.

"Ultimately a planning application encompassing his entire scheme would seem to be the obvious way forward."

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley) said she has received some concerned phone calls. "There seems to be confusion about what is happening, who is doing the work and also who has given permission," she said.

"I am very conscious of the importance historically and architecturally of the station building being a listed building. I am also conscious of the neglected look of flower beds from a gardening perspective - they need more T.L.C.

"However, I am concerned about construction work being carried out without apparently any authority. You can’t decide you want to make changes on something that you don’t own and even then not without planning permissions.

"When the development was changed it went through a rigorous planning process and materials were important from a design perspective. Hence the station is in ashlar stone and materials used needed to follow similar lines.

"I do think the bed needs restoring to previous proportions and maintained better."

Mr Yaxley has vowed to finish the work.

"I was excited to see the work start and now I am desperately needing help," he said.

"I will meet anyone who can help solve the problem. No one wants it left as it is. I want to get planning and co-operation instead of threatening to lock me up."