Chellow Dene Wetlands: Yorkshire beauty spot to be rewilded in bid to reduce flooding to nearby homes

A Yorkshire beauty spot will be “rewilded” in a bid to reduce the risk of local homes flooding.

This summer, a £75,000 scheme to rewild Chellow Dene Wetlands, in Bradford, was revealed. The green space that surrounds Chellow Dene Beck was created in 2005 to improve water quality, but in their new proposals for the site the Aire Rivers Trust says the wetlands “no longer work.”

Plans submitted by the trust to Bradford Council called for the planting of over 1,000 “plug plants” and replacing existing grassland with 300 square metres of wetland meadow. An artificial barrier isolating fish and invertebrates will be removed and a ‘leaky dam’ made of natural materials installed, which will still allow water to pass through but at a slower rate.

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A pathway through the site will be improved to allow people to still use the site even when flooded. It is expected that the works will allow the wetlands to hold an extra 183 cubic metres of water during heavy rain, which will protect 18 nearby properties from flooding.

Chellow Dene WetlandsChellow Dene Wetlands
Chellow Dene Wetlands

The application claimed the build up of silt and a decision to regularly mow swathes of the site, rather than let the grass grow as a natural wetland had limited the area’s potential. The plans have now been approved by Bradford Council.

Council officers said the course of nature meant many of the features of the site designed to stop flooding were now less effective than when the wetlands were developed in 2005.

In their report they said: “The site’s function is now limited as wetland and pond cell capacity and flow has been dramatically reduced by sediment deposits and reed growth.”

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Approving the scheme, officers said: “Lowering the previously artificially raised stream banks will form a wider flood plain and increasing the ability of the stream to hold water during heavy rainfall. “The installation of the leaky dam will push flood water onto a newly planted wet meadow where water can be absorbed and held.”

As well as providing better flood protection, officers said the scheme will also boost the area’s wildlife, adding: “The current condition and management of the site has resulted in little diversity and opportunities for wildlife.

“The construction of the weir to feed the wetlands resulted in the loss of valuable habitat for fish and invertebrates.

“The proposed works will have beneficial effects for biodiversity in the form of habitat enhancement and water management.”

Referring to the work to improve the public right of way that passes through the site, officers said: “The footpath must be kept open to the public as much as possible during the works.”