CHANGES to a listed bridge will be allowed, as they are the only way a new flood prevention scheme can go ahead.

The Grade II listed bridge at Apperley Bridge is a key part of plans to reduce flood risks between the village and Leeds city centre.

Proposed by Leeds Council the plans will see a flood storage reservoir created on an area of rural land between Calverley, Horsforth and Rawdon, as well as banking and the “realignment of the River Aire."

One aspect of the scheme involves work to the bridge in Apperley Bridge - thought to date back to the 17th Century.

Parts of the bridge will be deconstructed and later reconstructed under the plans.

Much of the work has been approved by Leeds Council, and this week the work to the bridge were approved by planning officers at Bradford Council - despite opposition from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

The flood defence works in Calverley would likely lead to an increased flood risk in Apperley Bridge, so as part of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme work would be needed to improve flood defence works in the area.

This would include strengthening the bridge's parapets and arches to "withstand the pressure exerted by the increased flow of water."

The plans were developed after the Boxing Day floods of 2015, which resulted in water levels rising 1.2m higher than previously recorded.

It led to flooding of over 3,000 residential and business properties, including many in Apperley Bridge.

Flood alleviation works between Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall are approved

Discussions between Bradford and Leeds Councils found that the works to the bridge included in the latest planning application were the "least invasive of the available options."

Heritage officer Jon Ackroyd, who was consulted on the plans, said: "The proposal requests invasive work to the fabric of the bridge.

"The bridge would become a flood management structure, and adaptation is required for the additional structural implications which this presents.

"It has now been sufficiently demonstrated that there are no alternative solutions which would avoid intervention to the fabric of the bridge itself.

"An independent structure is not possible and the bridge is calculated to not be capable of accommodating the potential increased flows and levels without amendment."

However, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings did not share his view.

In a letter to the Council Joanne Needham said the group "strongly objected" to the plans.

She added: "It appears that works already undertaken, and those planned to be undertaken next as part of the first and second phases of the Flood Alleviation Scheme have actually precipitated some or all of the works proposed to Apperley Bridge under this application.

"While the Society fully supports protecting against flooding, unless there is demonstrable evidence that such measures are the right ones, and supported by clear and convincing justification, we do not believe that it can be claimed that the public benefit outweighs the harm to the heritage asset."

Approving the works, planning officers said: "Whilst there is harm from the loss of original fabric and constructional authenticity, justification has been provided which demonstrate public benefits in providing enhanced flood protection over a very significant area of land stretching from the centre of Leeds to Apperley Bridge."