Green light for next stage of Derby’s flood defence scheme
Published: 17 November 2023
Derby City Council’s planning committee has given the green light for the next stage of the Our City, Our River (OCOR) flood defence scheme.
Package 2 of the partnership project with the Environment Agency, also known as Derby Riverside, will improve resilience along the east bank of the River Derwent as it goes through the city centre, starting at Causey Bridge and ending at the railway bridge across the river. This covers the riverbank opposite the Council House and River Gardens, which were protected by Package 1.
The city saw the effects of climate change in action recently when river levels reached their highest point ever recorded during Storm Babet. This phase of the project will deliver new flood defences for the city, offering far better protection for Exeter House and properties on Meadow Road and Meadow Lane, which experienced flooding during the storm.
Data shows that serious flood events in Derby are happening more frequently, with five of the top ten highest river levels since 1935, when recording began, occurring in the last five years.
Package 2 of OCOR will also involve the demolition of the riverside office blocks on Stuart Street to create a new riverside green area, designed for flood water to go around Exeter Bridge and help lower river levels through Derby by making space for water.
The scheme will enable the area behind the new defences to be regenerated, with opportunities for developing new homes and businesses due to the enhanced flood resilience.
Enabling works will begin shortly to get the site ready for development, with construction work due to start next year.
This will involve work to remove a number of trees along the route not only to enable defences to be built, but because the riverside park area will only work effectively as a flood conveyance corridor by limiting the number of trees.
Derby City Council has worked extensively with its arborculturalists to keep the number of trees removed to a minimum. While the plans approved by committee give permission for a total of around 205 trees to be removed, this is the worst-case scenario and the aim is to keep as many as possible. Some will be pollarded where this is a better solution.
OCOR includes a scheme to replant more trees in the city than have been lost. A total of 573 trees will have been removed by the time Package 2 is completed, but 433 trees have already been replanted, with a further 1,442 to be replanted in the coming years.
Councillor Carmel Swan, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Transport and Sustainability, said:
“The flood defences already built as part of OCOR proved their worth in 2019 and again during Storm Babet, when river levels reached their highest level. In all, around 2,000 properties benefitted from increased protection. The fact that the five highest recorded river levels have happened in the last five years shows that serious flood events are becoming more frequent and we have to take action now.
“The city centre river bank is going to look very different while construction work is under way. There are plans to replant some trees after the works are finished. We will replant as many trees as we can near the river, but we need to create the space for flood water.
“One of OCOR’s legacies will be more trees, extended to other areas, making the city’s tree canopy bigger and more widespread.”
A spokesperson for the Environment Agency added:
“As Storm Babet has recently demonstrated, it is clear we all face a significant challenge from climate change, which will bring wetter, stormier weather and heightened flood risk to our communities. This project will help the City of Derby become more resilient to that challenge, and we are delighted that planning permission has been granted for phase II. We would like to express our gratitude for the perseverance and hard work of the Our City Our River team at Derby City Council, and congratulate them on this milestone.“