The University of Sheffield in collaboration with Bradford Council to regenerate area around Bradford Beck

25 January 2018 - Published by Ellen Kelder

The BEGIN Team at Sheffield University (Dr Liz Sharp, Professor Simon Tait and Dr Anna Kenyon) met with Council staff from partner city Bradford at the end of December 2017 to discuss plans for regenerating an area of the city around Bradford Beck.

The team at Bradford plan to regenerate and rejuvenate an area of land around Bradford Beck and the Canal Road corridor.

Plans include de-culverting (uncovering) a section of the Beck and improving greenspace around it.  Work has already begun to build houses on brownfield areas close to the beck and a longer term aim is to improve transport links by increasing the capacity of Canal Road, a significant highway linking Bradford to Shipley and the Aire valley.

The teams discussed the potential for including blue green infrastructure (BGI) in the development of the area to support drainage and storm water management.  This would offer synergistic benefits for flood mitigation as well as leisure opportunities. It was agreed that there is scope for this to be included in the development plans. 

An area around the Beck close to where new housing will be built

An area around the Beck close to where new housing will be built

The Sheffield team shared their cost tool which identifies how the project will add value to the area

This project will add value to the area, making it a more accessible, desirable and attractive place to live and visit. There will be more homes, improved capacity to deal with excess water from storms as well as more greenspace which can be used to visit for recreation or exercise providing health benefits. 

Once a central feature of Bradford, Bradford Beck was used to power mills through the nineteenth century.  However the Beck became polluted and devalued. Sections were covered over (culverted) and its role was diminished. 

Pollution continued in the mid to late twentieth century through waste from chemical manufacturing plants. However, more recently, chemical plants closed down removing a key source of pollutants and in 2011 the Friends of Bradford Becks (FOBB) group was set up which has been working to improve water quality.  Bradford Council’s latest project could see the Beck’s re-establishment as an important feature in the City of Bradford, offering benefits in terms of aesthetic, recreation, environmental and practical water management value.

 Bradford Beck

Bradford Beck

The team at Sheffield will work alongside Bradford City council supporting development plans and showing how BGI can be used to add value to an area.

Sheffield’s role in the BEGIN project involves supporting councils in their development plans for redeveloping areas and incorporating BGI solutions and gathering learning experiences.  Sheffield provides a bridge between the social science perspectives relating to social innovation and the more technical perspectives of the academic partners relating to how BGI is valued.   A key issue in this is the governance of the projects and how different agencies and individual players influence the processes involved in getting projects off the ground and through to completion. 

Dr Liz Sharp recently published a book ‘Reconnecting People and Water’ discussing public engagement and urban water management.  The book will be launched in Sheffield on 23rd January.  Please click here for more details of the book and launch.