New public amphitheater has hidden role as flood defense system

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The first phase of a new £ 1million flood mitigation program, which also served as a public amphitheater, has been completed.

A new drainage system on Station Road in Sidmouth will divert surface water from the properties to a newly formed amphitheater on Knowle land.

Devon County Council’s program includes an underground storage system below the amphitheater that has the capacity to contain flood water up to a 30-year storm. Staged sections above ground can store up to half a meter of water during a storm every 100 years.

The project was designed to use Knowle’s open public space, providing a amenity area for the community when the project is not required for floodwater storage.

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This initial phase of the program aims to defend more than 60 properties from 100 year flooding and will also save townspeople around £ 10million in flood damage and salvage costs.

Devon County Council Chairman Cllr Jeff Trail BEM marked the opening in a brief ceremony with county councilors, members of Sidmouth City Council and East Devon District Council.



Photo shows Councilor Jeff Trail BEM, Chairman of Devon County Council, opening the Sidmouth Knowle Flood Defense Program. (Photo by GRW Photography).

He said: “I am really delighted that Sidmouth can have its own amphitheater – it will be a fantastic addition to the city. In terms of flood risk, it is the completion of the first of two phases of flood improvement works for the city that will allow homes and businesses to continue to thrive in times of extreme weather conditions.

“Building such a program during a global pandemic posed significant challenges, especially when adding bad weather to the equation. I would like to thank the East Devon District Council as the landowners who made this project possible on their land and for working closely with us throughout its construction. I am sure they are delighted with the new facility that has been provided to the city.

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Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Highways Management Cabinet Member and Sidmouth County Councilor, said: “I congratulate those who have been involved in carrying out this vital flood improvement work. No one imagined that a development that obviously requires the interception and storage of a large volume of water before it arrives in the city, could indeed be hidden from view of all, giving the community a real asset that will attract people.

“Along with the delivery of this program, Devon County Council and its consultants have been investigating what the composition of the city center phase two works will include. While it’s likely to feature more traditional defenses and drainage, I have no doubt that the attention to detail and care given will be of the same high standard.

The second phase of the program will focus on improving drainage in the town center for the benefit of dozens of additional premises, and the overall project aims to reduce the risk of flooding for a total of more than 100 homes and businesses in Sidmouth. .

Cllr Roger Croad, Cabinet Member at Devon County Council for Public Health, Communities and Equality, said: “Devon has made a significant investment in identifying the people in the county most at risk of flooding. surface water. Sidmouth has been identified as being particularly vulnerable.

“This is a great example of the partnership work that developed the project we see today, moving away from traditional floodwater storage to provide a system that doubles as an important and unique community asset.

“We hope that the community uses and benefits fully from this unique space when they are not taking action to protect the city, and I am sure that when necessary the community will appreciate it for its main purpose, as a asset defense against floods. “



Sidmouth Flood Mitigation Program Design for The Knowle
Sidmouth Flood Mitigation Program Design for The Knowle

Cllr Ian Barlow, Chairman of Sidmouth City Council, added: “I take my hat off to the engineers who designed and delivered not only a flood relief program, but also a great new economic and social asset to our town. With DCC, EDDC and STC working together, it just shows what can be achieved. “

The program, built by South West Highways, was developed as part of the County Council’s Surface Water Management Plan for Sidmouth after the town’s properties were flooded in November 2014. It is funded by the Council of the Devon County, the DEFRA Flood Defense Grant in Aid and a Local Levy Contribution administered by the South West Coastal Flood Committee.

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