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Fresh flood defence plans submitted at historic Kirkstall Abbey

31 March 2019

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New flood defences could be installed in the historic grounds of Kirkstall Abbey, if a detailed planning application gets the green light.

Leeds City Council has applied for listed building consent for proposed works to the Grade II listed Kirkabbey Kennels, sluice gates, cottage and weir on the River Aire at Kirkstall Abbey. The structures date back to the 19th century.

kirkstall abbey plans

The proposed works include building a new sluice structure next to the original sluice gates, which will be attached to the Listed cottage and weir.

The new measures will control the flow of water through the goit in a flood similar to the one which caused so much damage on Boxing Day 2015.

The structure will include a concrete wall creating a 1.5m-wide curved walkway. It will be faced with stone with the flow control device being positioned below normal water level. The structure will tie into Clough House, which will needs a small section of remedial work.

kirkstall abbey flood defences 2

The works are part of Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme (LFAS) Phase 2 to improve the level of flood protection to low lying areas along the River Aire between Leeds City Centre and Apperley Bridge.

This latest planning application provides more details on the proposals for the area, which had previously sparked ‘serious concern’ from watchdog National Heritage.

They’re part of wider plans for flood defences along the Kirkstall Valley which were submitted in December and feature measures such as new defence walls, embankments and a large flood storage area.

kirkstall abbey flood defences 2

A planning statement accompanying the application says:

“There is considered to be a negative impact to the historical value of this asset and its setting.

“A large proportion of the value of the asset comes from the clear connection between the River Aire and Abbey Goit. There is potential for this connection to be lost by the construction of a new structure dividing the sluice from the River Aire.

“This impact is considered suitably mitigated by the ‘light touch’ nature of the new structure-both its construction using largely glass panelling above water level and the fact it will sit at a lower level than the original sluice. It is therefore considered that this new structure will blend into the historic environment.”

The report says the works will help ‘the continued conservation’ of the area and adds the works are ‘considered to add aesthetic and communal value’.

The Listed Building works are required to enable the defences to go ahead.

The plans can be read in full and commented upon here.

Kirkabbey Kennels, Sluice gates, Cottage and Weir are largely associated with the industrial past of Kirkstall Abbey and were likely built between 1837 and 1868 by the 7th Earl of Cardigan before the estates were sold off in 1889 to the City of Leeds to become a municipal park.
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