West Leeds flooding ‘will be inevitable if we carry on like this’ – councillor

wortley ring road flooded
Wortley RIng Road on Saturday. Photo: Daniel Riley

Words: Richard Beecham

A Farnley and Wortley councillor has warned floods like the one last weekend will become “inevitable” if developers do not become more careful about where they build.

The leader of the Leeds Green Party, Cllr David Blackburn, was speaking after flooding at Wortley Beck submerged the Ring Road near Branch Road in his own ward. The flooding threatened nearby houses.

david blackburn farnley and wortley
Cllr David Blackburn

Cllr Blackburn believes that, in addition to flood defences, council decision-makers need to stop allowing developers to build on land susceptible for flooding, as this takes away the capacity for drainage and can cause water run-off.

His comments come exactly a year after the city’s “near miss” with the rainfall brought about by storm Ciara, and this has led some to call for urgent improvements to Leeds’s flood defences.

Scenes of small flash floods were posted on the internet on Saturday, with Gelderd Road in Wortley and Troydale in Pudsey affected by high levels of nearby becks.

“Incidents like this are inevitable with climate change, because there is more rainfall,” Coun Blackburn said. “But we are building on more and more land and it is causing more water run-off. It’s inevitable if we carry on as we are – we are going to get more situations like this.

“We can invest in schemes to stop flooding, but some of it is taking place in a catchment area where we are allowing building and the taking away of trees.

“We need to be more careful about where we are building, and we need to take the wider cause into consideration.”

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves (Lab) added that the flooding caused cancellations at Kirkstall Forge Station, and that the Government was ignoring repeated warnings about the issue. She said:

“My constituents in Leeds West have been hit yet again by more flooding which meant cancelled services at Kirkstall Forge station. There was also flooding in Wortley after the Beck burst its banks.

“I have repeatedly warned the Government that it must act and stop dithering to prevent people facing sleepless nights as they wonder if their homes and businesses will fall victim to flooding.

“The Government should convene a flood preparedness taskforce and bring together local leaders and frontline agencies so Leeds is properly protected.”

Flooding in Troydale, Pudsey, on Saturday. Photo: Damon Sugden

Simon Seary (Con) represents the Pudsey ward. He said a temporary barrier had been put up against Pudsey Beck in Troydale, but warned the problem was made difficult by the amount of mud and silt blocking nearby drains.

Coun Seary agrees that some built up areas can cause water runoff, rather than providing drainage, which can lead to problems.

“With new builds, they often build reservoirs underneath to collect the rainwater,” he said. “But when you have people concreting over drives, added together, it adds an issue and you could have a bigger problem over a period of time.”


  1. This comment by this councillor is hardly a revelation.
    This has been going on for decades.
    Building companies for far too long have been able to build where they liked helped by councillors from all parties.
    Yes we need new homes but these need to be built away from known flood areas.

  2. Before continually blaming central Government for everything, the next time that our local MP makes a visit to her constituency, maybe Ms. Reeves should have a quiet word with the Leeds City Council advising them to make sure that all areas in our city are fit for purpose before they grant more planning permission for new builds. Also, as it appears to be policy at the moment to sell off, presumably at a reduced rate, a number of buildings owned by the council to try and reduce the overspend that they are responsible for, maybe the council should speak with developers to try and convert these buildings into dwellings for the local people in need. Just a thought!

  3. Just take a look at the proposed development in New Farnley off Low Moor Side on the council website where a underground reservoir is the latest proposed solution .On top of that they now propose a communal area this so 112 houses can be built. Wouldnt surprise me one bit knowing the land very well if this fills up every time we get a rainfall of any substance which cant be contained and will result in flooding on partsof the Castle Ings estate. Madness ask anybody with houses that back onto the field for their views and concerns some who already have sump pumps fitted under their houses re excess water from the field, this before the concrete it all over.

  4. Wait a minute – Rachel Reeves is complaining about Kirkstall Forge having to cancel trains because of the floods? This, AFTER building on a site which is known to flood, AND proposing to build an obscene number of expensive flats here in the very near future? She sanctions the very things that are literally causing the floods.
    Stop ripping up trees and slamming retail parks and unwanted housing/offices/unnecessary train stations on what would have been natural floodplains.


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