OFAS and development

Development

People have suggested that the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme (OFAS, the Scheme) could lead to, or facilitate, new development in the flood plain, which would add to urbanisation and reduce the amount of open space in west and south Oxford.

OFAS is about reducing flood risk to existing properties, business and infrastructure. It is not being proposed with the goal of creating opportunities for future development. There are a few areas which would benefit from the scheme where some development or redevelopmentmight take place in future, subject to the normal planning approvals being obtained. But this is incidental to the flood scheme.

Osney Mead

One of the areas where it’s claimed development will be facilitated is Osney Mead. Oxford University has publicly said that it has aspirations to redevelop this area. It is an already developed site, hosting a large number of businesses currently facing risk of flooding.

The University are paying for an additional bund (and all associated costs) to be created along the western edge of Ferry Hinksey Rd. This additional feature will increase protection from flooding for businesses currently operating from Osney Mead, and has been taken on board by OFAS for this reason alone. Any redevelopment would be of a brownfield site. Proposals for redevelopment would have to go through the planning process, demonstrate consistency with the existing Local Plan, and show they do not increase flood risk.

Elsewhere

The main area in the flood plain that is not presently built on, but which will be protected by OFAS from flooding in future, is on the river (east) side of the Abingdon Road, south of the hotel and including University College sports ground and Cowmead allotments.

This area (about the size of Osney Mead) will be protected by a bund along its eastern edge. We understand it would be very difficult, and more costly, to put the bund closer to the road. But even with the current OFAS design there is no certainty that this land will be developed.Any plans to develop these sites would be subject to local planning permission, and while OFAS could make the conditions easier to meet, it does not follow that development will happen here.

The vast majority of the flood plain will continue to flood – and that will be essential for the Scheme to work as planned. Although the Scheme area, where changes will be made, does not occupy all the flood plain meadowland, these flood meadows are nevertheless an integral part of the scheme design and need to be able to flood as they do now.

There will be no change to the Green Belt around Oxford as a result of the construction of OFAS.

The open, green flood plain meadows will be no more open to development than they are now, indeed arguably the fact that they will now be part of a specific, designed and paid-for flood scheme will make development there much less, not more, likely.

And if, as intended, the scheme area is expertly managed for wildlife, by organisations such as the Freshwater Habitats Trust or BBOWT, as well as for recreation (including fishing), the greater its chance of resisting the threat of unscrupulous developers.

There are other recent posts relating to OFAS –

Clarifications and explanations

Gravel mining – Be careful what you wish for

An Oxfordshire gravel mine, 2018

Advertisements

Prime Minister visits Oxford

PM visiting Oxford_Dec2014

From L: Barry Russell (EA); Nicola Blackwood, MP; David Cameron, Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, visited Oxford today. This was related to an announcement that £42 million should be available to the Oxford FAS. While this was anticipated, as Flood Defence Grant in Aid money allowable for the proposed project, to have it announced in this public way is very welcome as it adds impetus and weight to the proposal.

It does not imply though that the Scheme is a done deal: there is a rigorous assessment procedure and further public consultation to be gone through before the Treasury finally decides whether the project should go ahead.

It is also the case that no specific scheme, formally proposed, exists yet: that is still being worked on.

It was good to meet the new Chairman of the Environment Agency, Philip Dilley.

Sewer flooding

Sewer emptying 25.12.12

South Hinksey, Christmas Day 2012

25 December 2012

Overflowing sewers being emptied on behalf of Thames Water (TW) in South Hinksey on Christmas Day. A big thank you to the men doing the work for the last few days and right through the Christmas season.

Sewer flooding has been a problem in parts of Botley, North and South Hinksey and Kennington for some years, but notably worse in the last three or four. Heavy rain regularly results in manholes overflowing with foul effluent. Before and during the November river floods, sewage overflowed in large amounts in South Hinksey, into houses, gardens and streets. The contaminated effluent entered local watercourses – pollution reports have been filed by the Environment Agency. Nicola Blackwood, MP, called a Public Meeting in South Hinksey. In a packed hall, Thames Water apologised for what had happened, and that some failings of theirs had not helped. They agreed, among other things, to publish plans to address hydraulic overload, blockages and the upgrade of Littlemore pumping station, to include an overview of timelines.

In the threatened floods now, TW tankers have been in South Hinksey regularly to empty the sewers, making a great improvement on November. The community now awaits the promised plans. There must be serious problems somewhere, which desperately need sorting out, because the sewers overflow when there is no river flooding – and more seriously in the last few years.

The Abingdon Road area had very similar problems in the November floods, with tankers employed to relieve the sewers.

Sewers get overloaded in flood conditions in parts of the Botley Road area.

MPs visit flooded areas

30 November 2012

Our MPs, Andrew Smith and Nicola Blackwood, have visited flooded areas to see the problems and how defences were working.

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: ‘The Environment Agency, City Council and Emergency Services have done a good job.  I saw for myself the effectiveness of the barrier by Hinksey Lake and the pumping operation in Vicarage Road, where we had 3 feet of water in 2007. The measures pressed for by the Oxford Flood Alliance and put in place have made a big difference; but it is all still on a knife-edge, and we must all keep up the pressure for more works to reduce the risks still further’.

Nicola Blackwood, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, visited areas on the Botley Road and in South Hinksey before moving on  to Abingdon. She saw flood defences working well at Bullstake Close, Botley Road. In sharp contrast, in South Hinksey there was flooding of seven houses, with water which seems very likely to have been contaminated by overflowing sewers. Ms Blackwood is taking up this and other issues on behalf of residents.
Sewers and/or surface water systems appear to have been overloaded too in the Grandpont area, and parts at least of the Botley Road area. This is of great concern and demands urgent investigation and remedy.

Temporary barriers for the Hinksey Park area

22 September 2009

The Environment Agency demonstrated their new demountable (temporary) flood barriers for the Lake Street / Vicarage Road area this afternoon. The well-attended event showed the barriers being put into place – over 300m in about 1.5 hours. These barriers are to protect houses in Lake Street and surrounding roads which have flooded in recent years.

Hinksey Park barriers

3 September 2009

On Tuesday 22 September, the Environment Agency will be demonstrating to the public the use of its new demountable flood barriers for Hinksey Park. From 1pm to 3pm, teams will be showing residents how the barriers are erected and dismantled and the speed with which they can be deployed. Experts will be on hand to answer questions.
The barriers are of the same design as those demonstrated to the public at Osney Island in July 2008.
The demountable barriers for Hinksey Park were purchased by the Environment Agency as part of its £1.8m Short Term Measures programme for Oxford. They will help reduce flood risk in Vicarage Lane and Lake Street from the Hinksey Lakes.