A £3.3 million flood defence scheme for Otley has moved a step closer.

Details about the project, which Leeds City Council began working on following repeat flooding in the town in 2015, were announced earlier this year.

Designed to offer protection against a ‘one in 25 year flood’, the scheme involves building a a long embankment to the west of Billams Hill, from Otley Bridge to Newall Mount. Vegetation on the islands downstream of Otley Weir will also be cut back and managed.

The council’s Executive Board agreed an outline business case - and to provide the estimated extra £1.374 million that will be needed, on top of £2 million from the Government, to fund the work - in June.

Now a planning application, for ‘the construction of an embankment with a one in three gradient and adjoining flood wall; removal of a wall within a Conservation Area; realignment of Kell Beck and associated landscaping and vehicle access on the former cattle market’, has been submitted.

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) is warning that it could still be some time, however, before residents should expect to see work begin. He said: “Given the timescales on planning applications it will be at least eight weeks before a decision is made.”

He added that a number of changes had been made to the scheme which followed research by the council, Environment Agency and engineering consultants WSP.

He said: “The plans have developed considerably since the original proposals. There have been a number of improvements, particularly with regards the opening up of the Kell Beck culvert which will help with biodiversity.

“They have also tweaked the plans at the request of the ward members. The scheme does not provide full flood protection (as far as that is possible) mainly because of funding issues. Our fallback position has been to amend the design so that when/if money becomes available further works can be added to give the same level of protection as the Leeds City Centre scheme.

“We have also asked if the footpath can be diverted to meet the zebra crossing on Billams Hill and there is also an issue about the proposed tree loss below the weir - this is an important habitat and needs to be replaced elsewhere.”