Sidmouth’s flood risk plan gets council approval

The Ford in Sidmouth during the floods on Saturday. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 8169-28-12TI

The Ford in Sidmouth during the floods on Saturday. Photo by Terry Ife ref shs 8169-28-12TI - Credit: Archant

A flood protection scheme that could benefit up to 259 Sidmouth properties, at a possible cost of £436,000, was approved by councillors this week.

Devon County Council (DCC) highways boss Stuart Hughes presented a flood action plan to his cabinet colleagues on Wednesday, identifying high risk areas and improvement works.

He called for a continued proactive approach to flood management and said the council, as a lead local flood authority, needs to become a statutory consultee to local planning authorities.

Councillor Hughes said although it is still early days in the scheme’s development, it is good news that things are progressing.

The preferred flood management option for Sidmouth would involve an overground storage facility, located in the Knowle grounds that would fill and empty during and after a storm.

This solution is identified in the Sidmouth Surface Water Management plan as providing maximum protection for the town, and could benefit 142 residential and 117 non-residential properties.

With an estimated price tag of £436,000 for the preferred option, Cllr Hughes said the scheme will be developed based on a cost-benefit analysis and is subject to a funding bid from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

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He said: “Future plans depend on what, if any, scheme can be promoted with a robust business case and justified cost benefit for national funding.

“Additional partnership funding will also need to be sourced.”

Mr Hughes said he will be looking for opportunities to speed up the date for Defra funding to be released, which is currently scheduled at 2020-21.

A close working relationship with other authorities is developing to coordinate a county-wide flood risk management strategy.

He said DCC is also liaising with East Devon District Council to further understand the specific flooding issues at Bulverton Park and Woolbrook Road.