More than 700 homes and businesses in Northwich will be better protected from the devastating effects of flooding with a £4.6m defence scheme, it was announced today (7 February 2013).
The Environment Agency has revealed the town is one of the beneficiaries of a £32m funding pot to construct and maintain flood defences in the North West.
The Northwich scheme – first identified in 2006 – will receive £2.2m from the Environment Agency, £500,000 from Cheshire West and Chester Council and £2.7m in partner contributions.
Although details are yet to be confirmed, the project is likely to involve raising the existing defence walls through the town centre as well as sections of raised embankments and flood gates.
It will improve flood protection to around 732 residential, retail and commercial properties and remove the ‘significant flood risk’ status currently attached to 350 of these properties.
Construction of the main phase is programmed to start in December 2014 with completion expected within the 2015/16 financial year.
Councillor Lynn Riley, Executive Member for Community and Environment, said: “This is the news that Northwich has been awaiting for many years.
“The long-standing need to improve the town’s defences was thrown into sharp focus only last year when residents and business owners faced the misery of flooding not just once, but twice.
“We have been working closely with the Environment Agency and have brought local partners Northwich Town Council to press the case for a share of this one-off funding. “We are delighted that this partnership working has proved successful in making this much-needed scheme a reality.”
Councillor Leader Mike Jones said the flood defence scheme would play a key role in the town’s continued economic growth.
“This news comes at a time of enormous private and public sector investment in Northwich, with schemes such as Barons Quay, Hayhurst Quay, Memorial Court and the Lion Salt Works restoration delivering unprecedented levels of regeneration,” he said.
“Improving the town’s protection against flooding will support both current and future regeneration initiatives and the estimated 1,500 jobs set to be created over the next few years.
“Today’s news is yet another powerful vote of confidence in the town and will help to build on its growing reputation as a great place to invest.
“The future for Northwich has never looked brighter.”
The North West secured a quarter of the £120m announced by the Treasury in last autumn’s statement for investment in the nation’s flood defences.
Sally Sudworth, the Environment Agency’s Flood Executive for the North West, said: “The funding announcement today will bring huge relief to thousands of families and business owners at risk of flooding in the North West.
“The weather we have experienced this summer highlights the growing importance of flood risk management both to local communities and the local economy.
“Only by working closely with local authorities and partners can we secure the funding we need to make a real difference, and I am please to say this is something we do extremely well in the region.”
Northwich’s most significant flood event was in February 1946 when 256 houses and 70 shops were flooded. The town also experienced flooding in 2000 and twice in 2012.
Councillor Julia Tickridge, a Northwich town centre Councillor and Opposition Resources spokesperson said: “Sadly, the people of Northwich are only too familiar with the devastation that floods can bring.
“As the two flooding events last year plainly demonstrated, the town’s existing defences are not adequate.
“Its location on the confluence of two rivers means Northwich can never completely avoid flooding, but this scheme will significantly reduce the risk, bringing much needed relief to residents and business owners while supporting the ongoing regeneration of the town.”