Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme: Taking a look at the Uk's largest infrastructure projects

Posted on 24 August 2022

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking into the UK’s largest infrastructure projects and seeing where they’re at currently. We’ll be taking a deep dive look into Crossrail, Tideway, Hinkley Point C, Battersea Power Station redevelopment, Stonehenge Tunnel, HS2, Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme and Birmingham’s Big City Plan.

The fourth project we'll be looking at is the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, a scheme being built to protect the city of Leeds against flooding.

What is the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme?

The Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme is the first NFM ( Natural Flood Management) programme to be introduced at a catchment scale in the UK. This is due to the city suffering from huge flooding in both 2015 and 2020.

Using two main elements, the scheme will reduce the risk of flooding, the first element is traditional engineering and the second element is natural flood management.

The scheme will protect the River Aire, a 92-mile-long river which flows directly through the centre of Leeds.

Phase 1

The first phase of the project began in early 2015 when planning permission was approved.

The aim of phase 1 was to create space for flood waters along the Aire in Leeds city Centre, it will protect more than 3000 homes, 500 businesses and city infrastructure.

Within the first phase of the project, work began to complete moveable weirs situated at Crown Point and Knostrop. The moveable weirs will reduce flood water levels by 1 meter.

Phase 1 was successfully completed in October 2017.


Phase 2

The second phase of the project is split into two steps. The first step focuses on protecting the 8KM stretch of river along Leeds Station, including the Industrial Museum, Kirkstall Abbey and Kirkstall Meadows. The first step was completed in Winter 2022.

The second step of phase 2 focuses on creating Flood storage based at Calverley, using an already existing flood plain. For this next step, work will begin at Apperley Bridge which will increase the level of protection up to a one-in-200 chance of flooding in any year.

Phase 2 will help to further protect 1,048 homes and 474 businesses and is due for completion in Autumn 2023.

Contractors Involved in Phase 1 & 2


History of the flood scheme

2011- Arup is appointed to develop the scheme with the Environment Agency

2014- Work begins on phase 1 of the project

2015- Planning permission approved

2017- Two movable weirs are installed and phase 1 is completed

2019- Funding is approved for phase 2

2020- Work begins on phase 2

2023- Engineering works due to be completed

2025-NFM works due to be completed

Where is the flood scheme currently?

With planning submissions and flood risk assessments complete, construction is currently continuing across Zone 13.

Zone 13 spans Kirkstall Bridge, covering Kirkstall Bridge Inn and the retail park. It will also go through Kirkstall Meadows, the Abbey, going up to Newlay Bridge.

The construction will consist of a flood defence wall, reinstating the gardens and blocking underground seepage paths that were impacted by flooding.


What's next?

Next for the Scheme is the continuation of Phase 2, which is due for completion in 2023.

The numbers

  • The project has a predicted cost of £112 million

  • The scheme will supply a 1 in 200 year level of protection against floods

  • Over 4,000 homes and 4700 businesses will be protected

  • The project will protect the city all the way to 2069

Last week we took an in-depth look at the Battersea Power Station Redevelopment. Please click here to find out more about this project!


Share this article