More flood protection for Lower Don Valley

Sheffield Floods'  the Wicker
Sheffield Floods' the Wicker

Plans to protect businesses in the Lower Don Valley from flooding are moving forward.

Details have been drawn up for new flood walls and gates, the raising and reinforcement of existing structures and the reinforcement of vulnerable bridges at three key locations.

They are part of a £8.1m project for a 8km stretch of the River Don between Nursery Street in the city centre and the Blackburn Brook near the M1 from the type of flooding that caused devastation in June 2007.

The Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has committed £5.5m and an application is being made for £1.2m from the Environment Agency.

But the success of the scheme depends on the support of businesses, who are being asked to contribute the remaining £1.4m through a Government initiative, the Business Improvement District.

More than 250 firms have the chance to vote in December on whether they are prepared to make a payment calculated on their rateable value over five years. It is calculated that more than half of businesses in the BID area would pay less than £2,500 over five years towards flood defences and river management.

Proposals have been developed by the council, the Environment Agency, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and representatives of affected businesses.

The three specific sites are Savile Street Saw Mill, land near Sanderson’s Weir and Meadowhall Road, and it is hoped to have secured the full funding package by early next year and to have completed the work by mid-2015.

Council cabinet member Jack Scott said: “This will establish a long-term mechanism for managing the River Don as a safe and attractive feature. Flood defences are clearly required. The project is excellent value for money and it should give businesses much better protection than there is now.”

Richard Wright, executive director at the Chamber of Commerce, said: “The project should help existing businesses get insurance cover and it would give potential investors increased certainty regarding the feasibility and security of development sites.”

The project comes at a time when the Lower Don Valley is at the core of the Enterprise Zone for the region aiming to attract further investment and development in modern manufacturing. Flood risk has been identified as a key obstacle to growth.