Flood prevention and amphitheatre scheme submitted to protect more than 100 properties in Sidmouth

The formal planning application for a flooding prevention scheme to protect 100 homes and businesses in Sidmouth and to provide an amphitheatre for public events has been submitted.

Devon County Council’s own application for the scheme at the Knowle in Station Road has been revealed, with a grassed amphitheatre with stone steps and feature paving a key feature.

The proposed development comprises a surface water storage area to reduce flood risk to over 100 properties across two phases of work within Sidmouth, thereby helping to minimise vulnerability and improving resilience to climate change.

An artist's impression of the Sidmouth flood prevention scheme at Knowle - that will double as an amphitheatre.

An artist’s impression of the Sidmouth flood prevention scheme at Knowle – that will double as an amphitheatre.

Key features of the proposal include:

  • a flood storage area;
  • a grassed amphitheatre with stone steps and feature paving;
  • associated earthworks for the flood storage area/amphitheatre;
  • a drainage swale seeded with a wildflower grass mix;
  • two pipeline connections into existing main water infrastructure;
  • a vehicular access track with turning areas;
  • new tree planting;
  • a new access point;
  • interpretation boards.

Statements submitted with the planning application say: “The works involve the creation of a surface water storage area at the Knowle which retains the site’s use as public open space while also providing a venue for public events in the form of an amphitheatre.

“The proposed scheme seeks to mitigate flood risk, while also creating a dual use public open space that can be used as a venue for public events such as the annual Folk Festival. It provides an important opportunity to not only provide flood risk and water quality benefits, but also to contribute to green infrastructure networks whilst contributing to safeguarding the local landscape character and distinctiveness.”

The proposals include drains across Station Road, Sidmouth, to capture surface water flows, which will discharge via a pipe to a swale, or channel, through the parkland to a storage area at the lower end which will be constructed in the form of an amphitheatre.

The statement concludes: “Overall it is considered that the proposed scheme complies with national and local planning policies and provides a sustainable balance between the localised environmental disturbance and the social and economic benefits of reducing flood risk within Sidmouth while retaining public open space and providing an improved space for public events.”

Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management and the Local Member for Sidmouth Sidford, had previously said: “This flood alleviation scheme is extremely important for the town. A lot of investigation work has gone into working up the design of this scheme in order to increase the standard of flood protection in Sidmouth, so it’s encouraging to see that the application is now ready to be submitted.

“This scheme is a win-win for Sidmouth as not only will it reduce flood risk but it will also provide a performance area for events, including the Sidmouth Folk Festival.”

It is hoped that work on the first phase of the scheme can begin in Spring 2020, subject to planning permission.

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