£3.4m flood protection plan for Chesham
A £3.4 million flood management scheme has been drawn up to protect the historic old town area of Chesham from flash flooding.
More than 130 homes, businesses and a school in the Church Street area of Pednormead End are at risk of flooding from a combination of excessive surface water and an overflowing River Chess in heavy downpours.
Following flooding five years ago, which put roads under two inches of water, Buckinghamshire County Council’s Flood Management Team examined options for a scheme robust enough to deal with a one in 100 year flood event and a one in 30 year groundwater flow. Flood simulation tests identified 136 properties at risk.
The proposed scheme involves building a bigger culvert under Church Street and providing each property at risk with the offer of a package of flood prevention measures tailored to their needs.
Packages could include a combination of flood-resistant doors and ventilation covers, pumping systems, flood gates, and raising internal electrics above flood levels.
The County Council is encouraging residents to sign up to the scheme, which will pay for the installation of improvements and pass responsibility for maintenance to property owners.
Bill Chapple OBE, Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment, said a drop-in information session later in the Spring would attempt to reach as many residents as possible.
“This scheme is good news for everyone in the Pednormead End area,” said Bill. “We’re unlikely to get this level of financial support again, and its success in protecting properties depends so much on residents’ involvement, so I’m urging them to meet us so we get a 100% take-up.”
The area has a history of flooding, and high water levels have lapped around residents’ doors three times in the past 18 years – in 2001, 2006 and 2014.
Bill paid tribute to the extensive investigation work by County Council flood management officers in the past five years, which examined the raft of options to solve the problem.
Storing excess water in man-made ponds upstream, enlarging river channels downstream, and changes to road drainage were among options analysed. “But the best solution was to focus on the culvert under Church Street combined with individual property packages,” said Bill. “This was the most economic and viable solution, which would not only improve drainage and flood nuisance on the roads, but also prioritise the health and well-being of our residents.”
The County Council will fund £2m of the cost, while the Government and Thames Regional Flood and Coastal Committee will put in £1.45m. The scheme is the first of seven across the county. The others, currently at feasibility stage, include Newt Ditch, Marlow; The Willows, Aylesbury; River Leck, Buckingham; and three to be identified in the River Wye catchment area.
The planned Chesham scheme follows a £20,000 river restoration project early in 2018, which demolished an old weir at Pednormead End and regradedthe river bed to reduce the risk of localised flooding.