News and Events

Work begins to protect Leeds city centre from flooding

Charlotte S Charlotte Fernández UKIMEA Press Office,Leeds
12 February 2015

Work has begun on a major multi-million pound flood defence scheme in Leeds, UK, which will protect thousands of homes and businesses and bring about huge economic benefits in the city.

Arup helped to develop and continues to work on the £45million Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, which is one of the largest river flood defence schemes in the country. It will see major construction work along the River Aire in the city centre and Holbeck extending 4.3km between Leeds train station and Thwaite Mills.

With Leeds City Council as client, Arup started development of the flood protection scheme in 2011. The scheme will see the installation of innovative moveable weirs to replace the historic fixed masonry weirs at Crown Point and at Knostrop. These new weirs will be the first of their kind to be used for flood defence in the UK.

By Spring 2017, the scheme will provide the city centre and over 3,000 homes and 500 businesses with protection against flood events from the River Aire and the Hol Beck. It will also protect 300 acres of development land and open up key regeneration opportunities in the South Bank area, unlocking business growth. The scheme will also help safeguard 22,000 jobs over the next 10 years and create 150 jobs and apprenticeships to work on the project.

This scheme is crucial for the city as it has come very close to serious flooding on numerous occasions in recent years. Not only will these defence measures protect peoples’ homes and businesses but also protect key employment sites, safeguard jobs and support regeneration, all of which is central to building a stronger, more resilient economy.

By using cutting edge flood defence technology and working with industry experts, we can provide sound flood defence for the city that is good value for money as well as good quality, as we have to weigh the cost of the scheme against the potential costs that would be caused by flooding to the city centre. Cllr Richard Lewis, executive member for transport and the economy, Leeds City Council

The design has proved not only to be a cost effective solution but it is also beneficial in creating quality public realm and a sense of place along the city waterfront as well as improving the in- river and bankside ecology. The benefits of the movable weirs mean that the equivalent flood levels will be correspondingly lower, avoiding the need for high and obtrusive riverside walls and also reducing the chances of flooding from the smaller tributary watercourses and drainage system across the city. The scheme incorporates an improved provision for fish migration and spawning grounds and is also designed to accommodate new hydropower generation at the weirs. David Wilkes, Project Director, Arup

The Leeds Flood Alleviation scheme is being funded by Leeds City Council, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Environment Agency and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The project is being delivered by Leeds City Council working closely with a project team including construction contractor BMM (a joint venture between BAM Nuttall and Mott MacDonald), the Environment Agency, and other organisations.