Building on Flood Soak Areas ??!!!

In our last post on the Wills Gill Planning application we looked at the issues caused by the rain and flooding on 9th February 2020 on that area.

We turn now to look at the issues that will be caused by the development of the ex Green Belt site on Guiseley Ings.


Guiseley and Aireborough sit in a ‘hanging glacial valley’ between Wharfedale and Airedale.  The geology is bands of millstone grit separated by shaley  mudstone.

Rain falls on the surrounding hills (up to 900ft, 275m), drains down to the hanging valley, and then finds its way north, via Mire Beck to the Wharfe and south via several ghylls to the Aire.

The floor of the Guiseley Gap lies at around 425ft (130m) above sea level,  the Wharfe and Aire lie at 125ft (38m). 

Destroying the natural soak areas of the Guiseley Gap increases the rate of flow down to the Aire and Wharfe, and the infrastructure damage to Otley and Leeds amongst other places.

Our ancestors understood this and managed the patterns of drainage to economic advantage eg ings for fertile meadows, steam power for the textile mills (and soft water for the fabric).

Floods – 9 February 2020

These were a repeat of the floods of Boxing Day 2015, affecting the same people and showing how our landscape now copes with rainfall.

Around Guiseley and Menston the rain falls on to Reva Hill and the Chevin. It then runs down the becks and culverts and on the Chevin finds new ‘spring’ areas through the geological layers.

It then finds it way through anything in the way, homes and businesses.

Until it gets to the natual floodplain on the Ings and Mire Beck. Whilst High Royds was working they stored the excess water in reservoirs for use by the hospital, that does not happen now, which is why High Royds has had to look at balancing ponds. Previous to High Royds the area was the wet marsh of Menston Common.

The Ings 2015
The Ings 2020

Excess water that cannot flow to the Ings floods the A65 and pours on to the Wharfedale line.

It then finds its way down to the Wharfe, where Otley Bridge is yet again closed and other infrastructure destroyed.

The same picture is repeated for the dip slope of the Chevin, see post here.

Who To Contact

If this is of concern, please write to the following people below to express your concern.

Cllr Judith Blake- Leader LCC

Tom Riordan – CEO LCC

Cllr Graham Latty –

Stuart Andrew MP –

Philip Davies MP –

Bradford Council‘s drainage team would like to see photos or videos of last weekend’s flooding to help them learn more about the places that have been affected, so they can consider what measures may need to be taken in future. Please email your photos and videos to the drainage team at Please include the following information: The location, preferably with postcode or a grid reference . The date and the time of the photo or video. Say if you are happy for them to reuse your photo or video footage

Area Masterplan

In a report on housing need in 2017 the reporting consultants found that the Wharfedale part of Bradford MDC had been ‘captured’ by the Leeds employment area. In other words Wharfedale and Aireborough were the same housing area and should be treated as such. The ANDF has requested on numerous occasions that a proper area masterplan for the Wharfedale/Aireborough area be done collaboratively between Leeds and Bradford Local Authorities. This can be required by the Secretary of State under the Neighbourhood Planning Act.

Such a masterplan would cover housing, green infrastructure, Green Belt, social infrastructure, employment, and travel and transport, so that the area works as a whole and is not developed in the piecemeal, haphazard way that is leading to unsustainablity – the opposite of what plan are supposed to do. We continue to promote this as a solution.

Meanwhile both Leeds and Bradford Councils’ are calling for more taxpayer funds to be spent by Government on flood defences and flood support !!