Yorkshire Water to create new wetland on site previously allocated for housing development next to Whiteley's Farm in Pudsey

Yorkshire Water has announced a U-turn on plans to develop housing on a site it owns in Pudsey – and will create a new wetland for flood alleviation on the land instead.

The site, on Hough Side Road, is next to the Whiteley’s farm shop and plant nursery, and was one of five parcels of land earmarked for major residential development by Yorkshire Water’s estates arm, Keyland, in the Leeds area.

The agricultural fields are in long-term Yorkshire Water ownership but no longer in use for water management or treatment.

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The plans have been announced today as part of a £36million investment in six projects on the Leeds-Bradford border to improve water quality in the Pudsey Beck stream by reducing storm overflows.

An artist's impression of how the managed wetland site in Pudsey will lookAn artist's impression of how the managed wetland site in Pudsey will look
An artist's impression of how the managed wetland site in Pudsey will look

New storm water storage facilities will be installed at Pudsey Smalewell, Dick Lane in Thornbury, Farnley ring road, Dale Farm in Drighlington and Littlemoor Bottom in Pudsey during 2024.

While at Hough Side, 4.7 hectares of land will be turned into managed wetland instead of being built on, though the site will not be open to the public. It will take three years to construct, and by the end will be able to hold 25,000 square metres of diluted wastewater – which does not include sewage – after heavy rain.

Plants will treat the water and pollutants and nutrients will be naturally broken down and returned to the ecosystem. The wetland is expected to become an important wildlife habitat.

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It is predicted that the additional water storage will reduce the number of discharge incidents into Pudsey Beck by 20 per cent.

Yorkshire Water’s director of capital delivery Richard Stuart said: “We are committed to improving water quality in the rivers across our region. One of the key focuses reducing storm overflows to make a real difference to water quality in our rivers.

“This project is a significant investment in the west Leeds and Bradford areas to improve water quality within Pudsey Beck. The additional storage and wetland we are building into the network will reduce the number of storm overflows significantly into the watercourse and is just part of a £568m capital investment we are making across Yorkshire this year alone.

“While work is being conducted in the area, there may be some traffic disruption and we are working closely with local authority highways departments to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.

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“We know that there is more to be done to tackle storm overflows. We are already working on our largest ever environmental investment as part of our 2025-2030 business plan. The plans, which will be subject to approval by our regulator Ofwat, outline a £1 billion investment to further reduce discharges from overflows to meet the government’s storm overflow reduction plan, including the requirement for coastal bathing waters of an average of two spills per bathing water season by 2035.”