Kirkstall: Flood defence plans set for green light

aire place studios floods
Boxing Day 2015 floods at Aire Place Studios, off Kirkstall Road

Major plans to protect the Kirkstall valley from flooding will be decided by councillors next week.

Members of Leeds City Council’s city plans panel will discuss plans for a series of defences designed to better protect the stretch of the River Aire between Leeds city centre and Calverley following the Boxing Day 2015 floods, which saw businesses under several feet of river water following Storm Eva.

Freedom mills Kirkstall Road Leeds flooding
Businesses like Freedom Mills on Kirkstall Road were hit by the 2015 floods

The defences will offer a one in 100 year level of protection and include new defence walls and embankments, bridge works, water control structures and wetland habitats.

The plans also include listed building applications for flood defences at:

– Wellington Bridge (City Centre);
– Armley Mills;
– Clough House, Kirkstall;
– Newlay Bridge.

There have been 17 letters of objection, with concerns including a lack of consultation in Kirkstall and Newlay, concerns over tree replacement, significant impact on wildlife and ecology, the impact on allotment plots, habitat destruction and impact on beehives.

Support has been received by MPs Rachel Reeves and Hilary Benn, as well as civic watchdog Leeds Civic Trust and Cardigan Business Centre.

A council planning officer’s report recommends that the plans be approved in principle, subject to a raft of 80 planning conditions governing how the work will be carried out. The report concludes:

“This would reduce flood risk to a large number of businesses and homes by raising the standard of protection from the effects of flooding of a 1:100 year event and protect employment in the West Leeds catchment.

“Detailed design through condition discharge will further develop the indicative proposals and this will be
undertaken on a character, zone by zone basis.

“This will consider carefully further consider the relationship of heritage assets, ecological interests and relationship to trees. Some impacts that will be unavoidable will be mitigated through ecological enhancements and tree replacement, carefully to be controlled through condition and in liaison with statutory and non-statutory consultees.”

If approved, work will start on the defences later this year.

The planning officer’s report – which will be discussed at the city plans panel in Leeds Civic Hall next Thursday, June 6, at 1.30pm – can be read in full here.

Leeds City Council submitted its application for flood defences last November.

The proposals have recently been amended to split the application into two steps. All works relating to the one in 200 scenario are removed from the current application and will come forward via a separate application
once the design work is more advanced.

Proposals removed includes the flood control structure at Calverley, and all flood protection measures located upstream at Apperley Bridge and Woodhouse Grove School.

The Government has made around £65m available for the scheme – but a funding gap of £23.3m still needs to be bridged before there is one-in-200-year level of protection wanted by Leeds civic chiefs.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves and council Leader Judith Blake have written to Chancellor Philip Hammond to invite him to Leeds to see the flood defence plans and meet residents and businesses who will benefit from the scheme.

Read more on WLD’s comprehensive flood defence coverage here.


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