City flood defences ‘diluted’ row

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FLOOD defences designed to protect around the Wicker in Sheffield city centre are to be downgraded due to Government cuts.

Traders say they are ‘extremely disappointed’ by the ‘dilution’ of the plans and fear they may now have trouble obtaining insurance.

The council admits the downgraded scheme would not prevent a repeat of the disaster of the 2007 floods, which was classified as a ‘one-in-150-year’ event.

Original proposals by Sheffield City Council and the Government’s Environment Agency aimed at preventing ‘a one-in-200-year’ flood.

They involved removing derelict buildings alongside the Don and closing Nursery Street. The area would have been excavated and a park created on terraced levels down to the river. Nursery Street would have been narrowed and pedestrianised and its level raised by several feet.

But the council says only £500,000 is now available for flood defences, so it is proposing ‘interim measures’ – using a wall of concrete bollards on Nursery Street which would only protect against a flood categorised as ‘a one-in-100-year’ event. A park will still be created under the downgraded plans but only at one third of the original size.

Ellie Bennett, operations manager for Wicker Pharmacy and a member of the Wicker Forum traders’ group, said: “The original plans provided reassurance that locals would not have to relive the 2007 flood.

“Now the plans include motorway-style concrete bollards on Nursery Street and will not be high enough to prevent a flood similar to 2007.

“We’re worried it will affect our ability to get insurance or planning permission for development schemes in the area.

“Wicker Forum members are extremely disappointed at the dilution of the plans. Concrete would be extremely ugly and it seems unlikely that they actually would be temporary, considering the current economic climate.”

A council spokesman said: “We are currently developing a flood protection scheme which is in the final stages of design and we will discuss further with the traders and others in the area. We plan to make a start on site over the next 12 months.”