AN attempt to spruce up the land in front of a railway station has hit the buffers - with Council officers saying the plans were well meaning but breached planning rules.

Last year Ilkley resident Roger Laxley began work to improve the area in front of Grade II listed Ilkley Rail Station.

The work included the creation of raised planters made of dry-stone walling and housing trees.

Part way through, the work was halted by Bradford Council, with officers saying a project such as this - in a busy public area, would require planning permission.

Mr Yaxley, a retired publisher, had maintained he had consulted Council officers before starting the work.

A retrospective application was submitted - but it has now been refused.

Man falls foul of planning rules in attempt to improve gateway to town

The application said: "The existing trees (a mix of Prunus and Sorbus) will remain, and will be underplanted with a number of ornamental shrubs, herbaceous plants and spring flowering bulbs. These plants will be maintained by an irrigation system to minimise maintenance requirements and keep plants in prime condition."

But the application attracted a number of objections.

Ilkley Civic Society wrote to object to the plans, questioning the lack of detail in the application - such as how a proposed irrigation system to keep the trees watered would work.

They also pointed out a lack of information over who would maintain the area.

The site lies in the Ilkley Conservation Area - any application in this area would face a higher level of scrutiny.

The freeholders of the adjacent Station Plaza development also objected, again raising concern over the lack of detail, and questioning whether a seating area planned at the site would lead "groups of youths" and anti social behaviour just a few yards away from the outdoor seating areas of restaurants and bars.

They also questioned who would be responsible for maintaining the planters.

Council Conservation Officer Jon Ackroyd also commented on the plans, pointing out that the station, built in 1864, was listed, and that inappropriate developments in front of such a significant building could harm its character.

He said: "It is proposed to introduce drystone walls some 450mm high to create raised beds.

"The increased built form which would result is not considered desirable as it would further clutter the forecourt of the listed building. Drystone construction may not be appropriate, as it is a rural feature."

Refusing planning permission the planning officer's report says: "In a nutshell, whilst the application seems motivated by an honest desire to enhance the appearance of the station forecourt, the introduction of a raised and inappropriate dry stone wall in front of the station buildings would be harmful to the setting of the Grade II listed Midland Railway station building.

"The raised walls would form clutter in front of the listed building and its proposed dry stone wall construction has no relevance to the buildings behind the proposed beds.

"The likely loss of, or damage to, many of the existing prominent trees due to damage to their roots during the construction of the raised wall and infilling with soil would not preserve or enhance the character or appearance of this part of Ilkley Conservation Area.

"Indeed, the proposal would be predicted to cause substantial long term harm to the conservation area as a heritage asset."