£1 million flood improvements for Axminster approved

Millbrook Flood Defence, Axminster

Posted on: 14 December 2016

Plans for a near £1 million flood improvement scheme in East Devon have been approved by Devon County Council’s Cabinet.

Councillors today (Wednesday 14 December) agreed to increase the budget for the scheme which will improve flood protection for properties at Axminster Millbrook.

Over 40 properties were flooded in Axminster during severe storms in 2012, with The Cricketers and Willhay Lane the main areas affected.

An ongoing flood risk remains for over 160 properties, but this would be significantly reduced by the County Council scheme, which would improve the standard of protection up to a one in 100 year flood event.

Devon County Council has been working closely on the scheme with Network Rail, and additional work has been needed to ensure the improvements do not have a negative impact on the railway. This has increased the design and construction costs of the scheme by around £370,000. Defra has provided an additional £321,000 toward the scheme from its Flood Defence Grant in Aid (FDGiA), on top of its original allocation of £240,000. Devon County Council is providing an extra £50,000 from its revenue budget for flood prevention work.

Councillor Stuart Hughes

Cllr Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management and Flood Prevention, said:

“This is one of the County’s highest priorities for flood improvements. Working adjacent to the railway has added further challenges and risks, and it has caused a significant increase to the scheme estimate, but these improvements are essential. I’m pleased that additional funding requested from Defra has now been approved to enable these essential flood improvements to be delivered. This scheme will reduce the flood risk to over 160 properties in this area of Axminster.”

A flood defence wall was constructed last year as part of a first phase of the scheme. Ahead of phase two, approved by the Council today, preliminary work has installed a ‘tree-catcher’ debris grill upstream of the culvert beneath Willhay Lane, and channel widening work has been carried out downstream of the railway towards the main River Axe.

Phase two of the scheme will include increasing the size of the existing culvert under Willhay Lane and extending it to connect with the culvert under the London to Waterloo railway line.

Cllr Andrew Moulding

Cllr Andrew Moulding

Councillor Andrew Moulding, Devon County and East Devon District Councillor for Axminster, said:

“It was absolute devastation in this part of Axminster after the 2012 storms, and for some families it was more than six months before they were able to get back in their homes. Axminster residents have lived with the fear of being affected again, so it is excellent news that the necessary funding and detailed plans are in place to enable the completion of these important flood defence works.”

East Devon District Council and the Environment Agency are working with the County Council on the scheme which is also being funded with £50,000 Local Levy, £50,000 from East Devon District Council and over £337,000 from Devon County Council.

Work is expected to start in January 2017 for completion in the summer.

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