Flood defence plans devised for Lower Don Valley

2nd April 2013

Proposals for a multi-million pound flood protection project for Sheffield's Lower Don Valley have been developed with the aim to commence work by 2014.

Around 300 businesses are being consulted on the plans which aim to protect companies between The Wicker and Blackburn Brook, close to the M1 motorway, against a minimum of a one in 100-year flood event. Planning application for the proposals will be submitted soon with construction involving new flood walls, installation of flood gates, raising and reinforcement of existing structures, as well as the clearing and maintenance of the River Don. In total, there are up to 20 separate works activities along the 8km stretch of the river, some of which will be on the public highway and some which will be on privately owned land. The Lower Don Valley was devastated by floods in 2007 costing millions of pounds in damage and lost revenue to businesses in the area. Sheffield Chamber and Sheffield City Council are working together to raise awareness of the plans, which require financial support from both the private and public sectors. The majority of the funding is being sought from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), with the balance required from local businesses. The Chamber and Council believe the optimum way to generate the private sector investment is by setting up a Business Improvement District (BID), which would see affected companies in the Lower Don Valley making a small percentage payment calculated on their rateable value over a period of five years. A BID has to be approved by a majority of businesses affected by the plans through a ballot, which is expected to take place in July. Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: -We have worked hard to ensure best value and, understanding the current state of the economy, identifying the best way any private sector contribution might be made. -The opportunity for a significant contribution from the public sector is unlikely to last for long, and the chance to spread contributions over a prolonged period is a significant cash flow advantage for companies of all sizes. As such, we will be strongly recommending approval of the BID. -Sheffield City Council has been very supportive and agreed, in principle, to help cash flow the project to minimise the impact on individual businesses, provided that the BID ballot is agreed with a majority vote. -Without a majority vote, a BID will not go ahead and the flood defences will not be installed. Cllr Leigh Bramall, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development at Sheffield City Council, said: -If the BID is voted for by a majority, nobody in the BID area can be exempt, so it is important everyone understands the scheme. -We are working to bring businesses up to speed with the details of the proposed works, the costs and benefits and the mechanism by which the BID will be agreed. Cllr Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene at Sheffield City Council, added: -We firmly believe flood defences are required, that the project is excellent value for money, and that it will give businesses much better protection than there is now.

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