Essential Flood Defence Project for Lower Don Valley

25th October 2012

Sheffield City Council is taking steps to protect hundreds of businesses in the Lower Don Valley from risk of flooding.

Sheffield's Lower Don Valley is the city's industrial heartland and main economic zone outside of the city centre. The proposals should minimise the risk of flooding in the area. Key river side defences have already been completed at The Wicker and Nursery Street area of Sheffield where the River Don broke its banks five years ago. The latest plans would involve work continuing for a further 7 km downstream as far as Blackburn Brook on the M1. Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene at Sheffield City Council said: -The Lower Don Valley is a critical area for the City Region's economy and we need to make sure that we do everything we can to minimise the risk to existing and new businesses. -As a Council we are being proactive in tackling this issue and helping businesses in what is Sheffield's industrial heartland. -In 2000 and 2007 Sheffield suffered serious flooding. The 2007 event alone caused millions of pounds worth of damage to local businesses and many simply couldn't survive another. Around 325 businesses could be protected by the multi million pound project which is a joint partnership between Sheffield City Council, the Environment Agency and the private sector, represented by the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce. Councillor Scott continued: -The majority of the funding for this scheme would come from public grants, which would leave a relatively small proportion still to find. What we propose to do is to raise the remaining finance through private sector contributions. The preferred approach is to set up a Business Improvement District for the Lower Don Valley, whereby businesses who would benefit from the flood defences would contribute to the scheme. Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: -We felt it was important for the Chamber as a representative of the private sector to work with the Council on this. -We were heavily involved in the issues arising from the 2007 floods and made it a priority to look at measures that would minimise the risk of any recurrence. -Work is now underway to refine a proposal that gives the best value for money for all involved. There will be a significant public sector contribution, but this will be conditional on private sector support and we need to show a good return on that investment. -We are currently speaking to companies in the Lower Don Valley on the best mechanism for any contribution, with a Business Improvement District initiative being evaluated as a possible option. The Council is looking to cash flow the private sector element, subject to the Business Improvement District being approved by a ballot of businesses. The Council would then recover this cash flow sum through the Business Improvement District over a five year period. Councillor Scott added: -We have already started speaking to businesses about our proposals and the establishment of the Business Improvement District and feedback has been encouraging to date. We will work closely with the Lower Don Valley businesses to help make the project a reality and support the benefits of this initiative. A decision to move the proposals forward will be made at the meeting of Sheffield City Council's Cabinet on Wednesday 31 October.

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