West Leeds: Kirkstall flood defence plans to go to Government


The next phase of the a scheme to protect Kirkstall and Kirkstall Road from flooding is set to be sent to the Government for approval.

At the meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board on Wednesday 13 December, senior councillors will be asked to approve formally submitting the plans in an outline business case to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Following the successful opening of the £50million first phase of the scheme serving the city centre, Holbeck and Woodlesford in October, phase two identifies measures further upstream including the Kirkstall corridor which was badly hit by the 2015 Christmas floods.

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

As reported by The Dispatch in September, proposals include:

  • Creating new woodland areas by planting hundreds of thousands of tree saplings on council-owned land, including unspecified locations in Kirkstall
  • The report also recommends the removal of a disused bridge at Milford Place in Burley and the removal of a platform under Gotts Bridge, Kirkstall.
  • Where possible, using sites in Leeds to temporarily retain flood waters when levels are high. Control gates would be used to fill and then release water from the stores back into river when safe to do so. Initial major sites identified in the report include Rodley Nature Reserve and at Apperley Bridge.
  • Smaller temporary flood water storage sites have been identified at Kirkstall Meadows (the rugby practice pitches on the opposite bank to Kirkstall Abbey) and Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve
  • Removing existing obstructions along the river to help reduce water levels, along with also lowering the riverbed in places along the Kirkstall corridor to improve its capacity and flow.
  • Improving riverbank protection measures along the river catchment in Craven and Pendle along with enhanced woodland areas and installing debris dams.
  • A new 700-metre long flood defence at Stourton with new walls and surface water interventions similar to those installed at Woodlesford as part of phase one.
  • Building raised defences along with landscaping, terracing, embarkments and walls, but due to the range of natural measures the height of any engineered defences will not need to be as high as previously projected.

If approved by the government the proposal created by Leeds City Council working with the Environment Agency and BMM jV Limited would see work scheduled to begin in early 2019.

Read the council report in full here or below:

Flood Alleviation Cover Report 041217 by John Baron on Scribd

Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Councillor Richard Lewis (Lab, Pudsey)said:

“Since these proposals were first outlined a lot of very positive conversations and consultations have taken place, with the ‘natural-first’ approach of using nature and the landscape to work for us to protect our communities from flooding resonating very well with people.

“As is to be expected with a proposal of this scale there are some localised issues which have been raised but we will continue to engage with people to address them. Given the level of ambition of this next phase of the scheme, which is much bigger than phase one, we are confident in now presenting the plans to Defra for formal consideration.”

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

The impact of Storm Eva in Leeds at Christmas 2015 affected 3,355 properties in Leeds, of which 672 were commercial businesses.


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