An ambitious project to protect Leeds city centre from a major flood has been handed a funding boost.
The council has been awarded £4m from the Government’s regional growth fund to help pay for phase one of the proposed River Aire flood alleviation scheme.
About 110,000 people working Leeds city centre, which is a key driver of the regional economy and currently has no formal flood defences.
The city centre was just centimetres from a major inundation in 2000 and has come close to flooding on four occasions since.
A comprehensive scheme for flood defences from Newlay Bridge in the north of the city to Woodlesford to the south failed to win Government backing and council bosses decided to investigate a phased programme,
Phase one, which could cost as much as £75m, includes installing moveable weirs at Knostrop and Crown Point, providing embankments, terraces and other defences and removing Knostrop Cut to merge the canal and River Aire.
The council earlier this year agreed to provide £10m to kick-start the scheme and contributions are also being sought from the European Regional Development Fund and the private sector.
The boost for the flood scheme came as the Leeds City Region local enterprise partnership (LEP) received £30m from the growth fund for business grants and to support 15,000 jobs.
Coun Keith Wakefield, council leader, said: “Financial support for businesses in this economic climate is vital if we are to drive growth. But it is equally important to provide protection from the risk of flooding to the many businesses that line our waterfront.
“Flooding can have a devastating impact on businesses themselves but the effects throughout the economy can’t be underestimated. We are moving forward with the flood defences for Leeds which will help us to maintain investor confidence in the city and safeguard the future economic development of Leeds and Leeds City Region.”
On the £30m award, LEP chairman Neil McLean, said: “This is great news for Leeds City Region businesses. Approval of our bid is more evidence of the confidence the Government has in the Leeds City Region LEP.”