Bradford, United Kingdom
City population: 521035
Duration: 2013 – ongoing
Implementation status: Ongoing
Scale: Micro-scale: District/neighbourhood level
Project area: unknown
Type of area: Other
Last updated: October 2021

The Bradford Beck project is a pilot project looking at new ways of managing and improving rivers. The Bradford Beck is a small river system of around 11km that flows through the City of Bradford. The beck used to be known as the filthiest river in England. In this project, activities are aimed at bringing the becks back to life and full health, for long term restoration of the Beck. It will provide a new focus of water-based socio-economic regeneration in Bradford (reference 1). The project established that a large proportion of the Bradford Beck catchment could be monitored with observations at just 12 strategic points along the course of the Beck, so observations would be made at all 12 points on different days of the week and at different times of the day (ref 6). A record of the status of the Beck at each point would be taken. This would include the level of the water, the colour of the water, smell, turbidity and a photograph of each site (ref 6).


Nature-based solution

  • Grey infrastructure featuring greens
  • Riverbank greens
  • Blue infrastructure
  • Rivers/streams/canals/estuaries
  • Wetlands/bogs/fens/marshes

Key challenges

  • Water management (SDG 6)
  • Improvements to water quality
  • Green space, habitats and biodiversity (SDG 15)
  • Green space creation and/or management
  • Environmental quality
  • Waste management
  • Health and well-being (SDG 3)
  • Creation of opportunities for relaxation and recreation


Ecological restoration of degraded ecosystems, Strategy, plan or policy development, Management of rivers and other blue areas

Project objectives

This plan is for long term restoration of the Beck that will provide a new focus of water-based socio-economic regeneration in Bradford; there are 6 visions: (ref 1) 1. Clean becks - Maintain existing wetlands in Pitty Beck and Chellow Dene and Install real-time, on-line monitoring of water quality 2. visible becks - Rivers that are lost are just drains that cannot be enjoyed or be assets to the city. They have no ecological value, have higher flood risks, and disconnect people from their environment and the consequence of their actions. 3. Accessible becks - Make beck corridors accessible to wildlife and ecologically connected 4. Thriving ecosystems - vision of clean vibrant river corridors where wildlife thrives. Renaturalise the becks and their flood plains wherever possible. Control significant invasive plants and animals 5. Care and conservation of freshwater resources (becks) - Make the watercourses visible and accessible, and engage c 6. A water-wise city 7. Public awareness and improve Bradford’s most hidden and neglected becks, Bradford Beck, and its tributaries (ref 7) 8. In the second phase, the main aim is to reversing 200 years of mistreatment of the Beck and making it an attractive and ecologically interesting feature of Bradford (ref 8). 9. Continuous monitoring of water quality of Beck in multiple locations and Engineering survey of culverts to control the pollution level of the drive (ref 6).

Implementation activities

1. Measures in the report include setting up nature trails, foot and cycle paths and running educational activities (ref 2) 2. The sections of the river which have to remain underground could be marked by paving, panels or with glass roofs, to help people be aware of Bradford Beck as an integral part of the city (ref 2) 3. established a Friends of Bradford Beck group (ref 2) 4. Continuous monitoring of water quality of Beck in multiple locations (ref 6) 5. Engineering survey of culverts (ref 6) 6. Survey of sewer system: mapping, location, correct operation of CSOs (ref 6) Establishment of nature and footpath trails (ref 2) Creation of pollution-free river bank (ref 6)

Main beneficiaries

  • Local government/Municipality
  • Citizens or community groups


Management set-up

  • Co-governance with government and non-government actors

Type of initiating organisation

  • Local government/municipality
  • Private foundation/trust

Participatory approaches/ community involvement

  • Co-management/Joint management

Details on the roles of the organisations involved in the project

Led by the Aire Rivers Trust, with the support of the University of Sheffield. the project has brought together local people and key organisations, including the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, Bradford Council and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. (ref 2) Defra (a national environmental agency) initiated pilot projects using the “Catchment Based Approach” to the coordinated management of land and water. The Bradford Beck project is one of the 15 of these pilots (ref 2) FoBB’s project coincided with a project by EA, whereby the water quality of Bradford Beck was being monitored in real-time, 24 hours a day (ref 6)

Project implemented in response to ...

... an EU policy or strategy? Yes (To fulfill requirements of the EU Flood Directive (reference 4))
... a national policy or strategy? Yes (Flood and Water Management Act 2010 (reference 4))
... a local policy or strategy? Yes (Bradford's local flood and water management strategy (reference 4))


Total cost


Source(s) of funding

  • EU funds

Type of funding

  • Direct funding or subsidy

Non-financial contribution


Impacts and Monitoring

Environmental impacts

  • Environmental quality
  • Improved waste management
  • Water management and blue areas
  • Improved water quality

Economic impacts

  • Unknown

Socio-cultural impacts

  • Social justice and cohesion
  • Increased opportunities for social interaction
  • Increased involvement of locals in the management of green spaces

Type of reported impacts

Expected impacts, Achieved impacts

Presence of formal monitoring system


Presence of indicators used in reporting

No evidence in public records

Presence of monitoring/ evaluation reports

No evidence in public records

Availability of a web-based monitoring tool

No evidence in public records