A major scheme to protect homes in east Leeds from flooding has opened.
The scheme, which is part of a programme of flood alleviation measures in the Wyke Beck valley, comprises of a new flooding control structure and flood storage at Killingbeck Meadows Local Nature Reserve.
Led by Leeds City Council, in partnership with the Environment Agency and West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the scheme provides increased protection to residential properties downstream of Killingbeck Meadows, reducing the likelihood of flooding of occurring in any given year.
By reducing flood risk in the area, the scheme will support the development of new brownfield housing, job creation and inclusive growth.
Alongside the new flood control structure, new ponds and seasonal wetlands act as a natural flood storage area and will provide increased habitat in what is already an extremely important green corridor for wildlife. Native woodland and wildflower planting will also take place over the coming months in partnership with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, enhancing green space for local residents and visitors alike.
Over 8000 trees will also be planted across the Wyke Beck catchment as part of the region’s catchment wide approach to flood management.
The scheme at Killingbeck Meadows is part of a £4.75m programme of works that delivers multiple benefits to the local economy and environment. Works at Arthur’s Rein Local Nature Reserve, which were completed in 2018, transformed an underground storm drain into an open channel, improving capacity and water flow. More than 2000 aquatic plants were also planted near the channel, leading to increased biodiversity and habitat protection.
The third element of the scheme is at Halton Moor Local Nature Reserve, where work involved new trees, plants, seats and wildflowers as well as improved footpaths and interpretation panels to offer enhanced access and visitor experience.
The programme has received £2.6 million funding from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), delivered by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, through the Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1 billion package of government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.
The Wyke Beck starts at Waterloo Lake in Roundhay Park in north Leeds and flows through the east of the city before joining with the River Aire, south-east of the city centre.
The Wyke Beck valley river catchment has a long history of flooding and drainage issues. Leeds City Council in partnership with the Environment Agency have developed a strategy to address these priorities for Leeds city region, in particular managing flood risk and sustaining green infrastructure.
Councillor Mohammed Rafique, executive member for environment and active lifestyles said:
“We are delighted that the scheme at Killingbeck Meadows is now complete. This will undoubtedly bring greater reassurance to families and businesses downstream who have experienced the devastating effects of flooding first-hand. Residents will also benefit from the enhanced green space which is so important for our health and well-being.
“I would like to personally thank everyone who has been part of its development and delivery. The extent of partnership working has been truly phenomenal and it is down to the creativity and collaboration of the people involved that has led to such a rich and multi-beneficial programme of works. It will make a real difference to the community in east Leeds in many different ways.”
John Woods, flood risk advisor at the Environment Agency said:
“It is great to see the completion of this project to reduce flood risk and benefit the local economy and environment. These initiatives show what we can achieve by working in partnership as they provide not only increased resilience to flood risk, but also improved habitats for wildlife and a better quality of life for residents through improved public spaces and catchment management.”
Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the LEP and Chair of the NP11 said:
“The climate emergency is one of the biggest challenges we face, and we know that incidents of flooding are becoming ever more frequent and devastating to our communities. This is why the scheme at Killingbeck Meadows was so vital and I’m proud to see what has been achieved through partnership working, supported by investment from the Leeds City Region Growth Deal.
“I’d like to thank the residents for bearing with us through the construction period and for their input into the scheme which will not only provide much needed protection for homes and jobs but also help to improve biodiversity and encourage more wildlife.”