Plan to uncover stretch of Yorkshire beck hit by European funding timetable

Proposals to uncover a stretch of Bradford Beck and create a new riverside park have hit a major stumbling block after delays mean the work will miss a key timetable.

The Naturalising Bradford Beck Scheme would open up a stretch of the waterway along Valley Road in Shipley, and was first announced years ago as part of the Shipley to Bradford Corridor Improvement Scheme.

The project was expected to cost around £3.25m, and £1.6m of that was due to come from a grant from the European Structural and Investment Funds. However – that funding came with a caveat – the work needed to be completed by June 2023.

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Work has yet to start, and Bradford Council says “challenges” such as spiralling costs and the fallout from the Covid pandemic meant it was unable to keep to the planned timetable. With the European money no longer available, the Council will now have to find a new way to fund the project. The authority said it was still “keen” to progress with the plans.

How the stretch of Bradford Beck could lookHow the stretch of Bradford Beck could look
How the stretch of Bradford Beck could look

With the June deadline for completion approaching, Bradford Council was asked for an update on the scheme.

A council spokesperson said: “The Naturalising Bradford Beck Scheme is an important part of the Bradford Shipley Route Improvement Scheme. The work would reduce the risk of flooding, as well as encouraging biodiversity.

“However, work on this scheme has now been delayed due to increasing costs due to high inflation and environmental factors. These challenges include treating hazardous ground, flash flooding and ensuring the safety of the public and workforce.

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“The delays also mean that the grant we were allocated towards the scheme from the European Structural and Investment Funds is no longer available, as it came with the condition that the work was completed by June 2023.

“The grant application which was approved in May 2021, and was submitted in February 2020, before we were aware of the impact of the Covid pandemic and subsequent high inflation which have both hampered progress.

“But we are still keen to complete this project so are working to find alternative sources of funding. The NBBS will form part of the refined Outline Business case being produced for the Bradford Shipley Route Improvement Scheme.

“The original objectives are the same – to protect businesses and alleviate areas currently at risk of flooding, as well as biodiversity and habitat creation from improved landscapes, tree planting, increased fish passage and new wetland. We are grateful to all the stakeholders in this scheme for their help so far and we will continue to work with them going forward.”