Posted: 07.08.20 at 12:14 by Joseph Bulmer
The first phase of a scheme to reduce flooding in Sidmouth is due to start on Monday, August 17.
The £550,000 project is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, a dual purpose flood prevention scheme that also serves as an amenity area for the local community.
It is part of a wider Devon County Council project which will aim to reduce flood risk to more than 100 homes and businesses around the Knowle area of the town, as well as parts of the town centre.
In the initial phase of work, new drainage will be installed on Station Road to divert surface water away from properties.
Once collected, the water will run down a wildflower lined swale into a newly formed amphitheatre in the grounds of the Knowle. An underground storage system will initially hold flood waters beneath the amphitheatre with a capacity to contain water up to a one in 30-year storm event. The tiered sections above ground will be filled as needed in more extreme storm events, enabling up to half a metre of water to be stored above ground during a one in 100-year storm event.
The scheme has been designed with the public open space nature of the Knowle in mind, moving away from a more traditional bund arrangement to one that can enhance the parkland and provide an amenity area for the community when the scheme is not required for floodwater storage.
Devon County Council has worked with Sidmouth Town Council and East Devon District Council to ensure that the dual use nature of the scheme enhances the park and provides the required flood benefits.
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, said: “I’m sure the property owners that will have flood risk reduced through this scheme will be pleased to see work starting ahead of the winter. The development of the amphitheatre will provide an effective storage area for surface water, but it also provides a positive community asset for the town.”
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management and local Member for Sidmouth, said: “I’m delighted that the first phase of this well thought out scheme is commencing as it ticks two very important boxes by reducing the flood risk to so many businesses and properties in the town and also, with the ongoing uncertainty caused by Covid19, the amphitheatre provides a unique outdoor feature for Sidmouth that I’m certain will be well used including future Folk festivals. It’s a win-win for the town.”
Councillor Ian Barlow, Chair of Sidmouth Town Council, said: “It’s great that a functional scheme to help with surface drainage can enhance the area and provide a useful community space for events while protecting it at the same time. Thanks have to go to Devon County Council and their engineers on producing this scheme, clearly demonstrating that helping to protect people doesn’t have to be visually intrusive and non-functional.”
The scheme has been developed through the County Council’s Surface Water Management Plan for Sidmouth after properties in the town were flooded in November 2014. It is being funded by Devon County Council, DEFRA Flood Defence Grant in Aid and a Local Levy contribution administered by the South West Flood and Coastal Committee.
The work is being undertaken by contractor South West Highways and is due to be completed in November.
The second phase of the scheme, which will focus on drainage improvements within the town, is currently being developed and is expected to be delivered next financial year.