NEW RESEARCH into the flood risks faced by the Bradford district has been welcomed by MPs and councillors across the district.

An Environment Agency study, due to be published in March, could help ensure future housing developments did not place further pressure on waterways in the district to avoid further flooding.

Independent Councillor for Craven, Adrian Naylor, has now called on planning officers at Bradford Council to ensure housing developers use the new data when devising flood strategies for potential developments across the district.

Councillor Naylor, who also sits on Silsden Town Council, has repeatedly warned that Silsden’s huge house building programme – 1,200 have been earmarked for the town over the next few years – could worsen existing flood risks.

The town was heavily hit by the Boxing Day floods of 2015 which caused Silsden Beck to overflow, becoming blocked with debris and extensively damaging a wall fronting onto Keighley Road.

The Boxing Day floods caused widespread damage throughout the Aire Valley, wrecking hundreds of homes and also causing thousands of pounds of damage for businesses, sports and social clubs, and also dumping large amounts of debris, including cars, washing machines and other plastic and litter on riverbanks along the River Aire.

Cllr Naylor pointed out that since 2015 hundreds more houses have either been built, or are in the planning stages, on land upstream of the beck’s Belton Road bottleneck. These include more than 200 on the Barratt development off Belton Road itself.

Councillor Naylor said: “More flooding like what happened on Boxing Day is likely, given issues like climate change.

“Last time we had maybe 100 houses that were potentially cut off for vehicle access. Now, due to the building of more houses, we would have 300 and 400 houses cut off.”

Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said he agreed with Cllr Naylor’s comments.

He said: “I agree wholeheartedly, it is essential that the Council’s planning policy is aligned with preventing flooding in the future.

“That means not agreeing to developments that lead to flooding further down the river as well.

“I have had constituents in Shipley who are concerned about a development in Keighley, which has been called in by the Government, which might cause problems further down the river in Shipley.

“Bradford Council must make sure they do not allow building on flood plains, and areas susceptible to flooding, but unfortunately Bradford’s track record is pretty lamentable.

“Nobody needs reminding how horrific the Boxing Day floods were in 2015 for those people affected, and we don’t want anyone in the future to suffer the same fate as a result of poor planning decisions.”

The Environment Agency research will update the existing Silsden Main River Model and Surface Water Model, and will update Bradford Council’s 2016 assessment of the flood risks posed in the district.

The 2016 report – commissioned in the wake of the 2015 floods – presented various options for tackling flood risks in the district, balancing the costs of measures against the benefits.

Cllr Naylor said: “I understand the Environment Agency is carrying out a significant piece of work on Silsden Beck and its catchment area, to look at flooding and the impact of housing developments that are going on in Silsden.”

“I welcome any updates to the modelling. We need more accurate, up-to-date and realistic information for when rainwater is likely to be become a flooding issue. That should enable planners to decide what work needs doing regarding each housing development, at the stage of the planning application.”

“We know we have a problem at Belton Road because of the bottleneck and we need to overcome that. We know there’s also going to be a housing application for the nearby Riverside Works site. Water only has the beck to flow out of, so putting more water into the beck isn’t a good idea.”

Following the 2015 floods, Bradford Council identified five priority areas to look at putting in flood defences; Baildon and Shipley, Bingley and Airedale, Esholt and Apperley Bridge, Ilkley, Keighley and Stockbridge, and Silsden.

The assessment looked at each areas flooding history, the number of properties at risk, and any positive or negative environmental impacts that may arise as a result of flooding.

The benefits flooding prevention would bring was then balanced against the cost of work, and also if the solution would be practical, sustainable and justifiable if it was achievable. Assessments can be viewed on the Bradford Council website.