By John Baron
Plans to bring a rugby training pitch back into use at Leeds Rhinos’ training complex next to the River Aire in Kirkstall have been withdrawn by developers Caddick.
The proposals would have seen a new full-size raised pitch installed at the northern part of the training complex which was submerged by water from the River Are during the Boxing Day 2015 floods.
The pitch would have been raised by 60cm in order to enable the area to be re-used by teams and the wider community amid increasing demand at the training facility. It would have been used by Milford Marlins, Leeds Rugby Foundation and the Leeds Rhinos Women’s Team.
Leeds Rhinos say existing pitches on the site had been contaminated by sewage during the Boxing Day 2025 floods and rendered unusable.
A design statement accompanying Caddick’s application had said: “…The northern part of the training ground was made unusable as a result of the pathogens associated with human excrement being deposited on and contaminating the pitches following the flooding. Indeed, a number of players developed skin rashes and other problems. Therefore, owing to concerns over the safety and wellbeing of players, Leeds Rhinos stopped using the training ground to the north of Bridge Road.
“We understand that pathogens enter the River Aire as a result of an upstream foul water overflow (which is now well past its design capacity), which discharges into the river (not just in times of flood). Flooding events therefore have the effect of contaminating the pitches and rendering them unusable, not only during and immediately following flooding, but all year, owing to the risk of infection caused by the pathogens.
“In summary, Leeds Rhinos Rugby League Club and its associated clubs and teams cannot use the Kirkstall Training Ground, to the north of Bridge Road, despite being lawfully able to do so, because the Environment Agency permit the discharge of foul water into the River Aire and this foul water is deposited on the training ground in times of flood.”
All training was relocated from the pitches in question to the new all-weather pitch developed in conjunction with Leeds Rugby Foundation to the south of Bridge Road, historically known as the Archie Gordon pitch.
The Environment Agency refutes any allegations that the problem have been ’caused’ by them.
In their response, EA said: “This is a matter the applicant needs to raise with Yorkshire Water to determine what action, if any, Yorkshire Water can take to mitigate the concern. Not all elements of waterborne contamination are within the control of Yorkshire Water.”
EA strongly objected to the planning application, saying it was ‘inappropriate to the flood zone in which the application site is located’ and contrary to national planning policy.
Their objection also raised concerns that the development would compromise the effectiveness of multi-million pound flood defences installed to prevent a reoccurance of the Boxing Day 2015 floods.
EA added: “We have further unaddressed concerns that the proposed development may: pose unacceptable risks to the operation and maintenance of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme (Leeds FAS); increase the frequency with which flood waters overtop the Leeds FAS defences; and reduce the design standard of flood protection, and design life, of the Leeds FAS.”
The plans were withdrawn by the applicant last week after being submitted for the second time in September 2022.
The proposals can be read in full here.