An exciting time!

20 January 2011

This is an exciting time!

Things in the Botley Road area which we have promoted and campaigned for for a long time are coming to fruition. The works will reduce flooding of properties by surface water. They result from cooperation between various bodies, including OFA.
At the end of 2008 we suggested setting up an inter-agency working party to concentrate on the Botley Road area. This was immediately taken up by the EA and agreed by the Oxford Area Flood Partnership in January 2009. Things began to move. Oxford City came up with the suggestion of a road hump at the top of Earl Street to redirect flood water; which fitted well with our suggestion that flood water be directed down Lamarsh Road instead of Earl Street, by lowering part of Lamarsh Road. The Earl Street hump is now going in – the result of work by County, City, EA and ourselves.

Very soon we expect work to start in Lamarsh Road, to lower the far end of the road. Here, as well as those already mentioned, developer Kingerlee has played a key role. A new flood route will in due course take floodwater away through the Kingerlee site to the flood meadows beyond.

Not far away, work is starting on another OFA-initiated project: the installation of flood culverts under Willow Walk. Much of the assessment and planning has been done by Oxford City in conjunction with the EA.

Advertisements

OFA’s Annual Public Meeting, 2010

25 November 2010

Our third Annual Public Meeting was held at the West Oxford Democrats Club, Osney Island today.

Very many thanks to the Club for once again providing us with a warm and comfortable venue – not to mention the bar!

The meeting was attended by over 80 people. We had had some concern that numbers might be down as it is now 3 years since a major Oxford flood, but thanks to Andy Webber’s efforts in distributing flyers, that did not happen. A big thank you to everyone who came out on a very cold night.

It was good to see Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East, who represents many flooded people along the Abingdon Road and elsewhere. He had with him a copy of our Building on Success, and has asked us to keep him in the picture about things at Redbridge, which affect his constituents as well as those further west. We are delighted that he said he will support us in getting necessary flood risk reduction work done there.

Flooded people from many parts of Oxford were present as were City and County Councillors and officers from City and Environment Agency. Among them it was good to see our previous Flood Stars, Nigel Bray (EA), Susanna Pressel (City and County Councillor) as well as Mary Timbrell (resident of Duke Street).
Andrew Smith MP (L) and Barry Russell, EA

Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East (left) and Barry Russell, Area Flood Risk Manager, Environment Agency, at OFA’s APM.

keith andy flood star 2010 APM_2

Keith Hutchence (R) of the Environment Agency was awarded our Flood Star for 2010. He was thanked for all he has done and presented with a unique bottle of “OFA Flood Star 2010” by Andy Webber.

Presentation by the EA
We were pleased to be sharing our meeting with the EA. They have been thinking about further ways to protect the Earl and Duke Street and Marlborough Court area, in particular possible ways of keeping water out of the back of properties bordering the Bulstake Stream. Barry Russell, EA Area Flood Risk Manager, presented these ideas to the meeting and answered questions. The ideas are at an early stage and residents will be consulted further; any comments in the meantime can be made direct to the EA or via your local OFA person.
Barry told the meeting about the planned pavement hump for the Botley Road end of Earl Street, which will be topped with a row of sandbags during flooding, keeping water out of the street. The County Council will be installing this in the New Year. There are also plans to provide a removable flood barrier for the alleyway into Duke Street from the east, to stop water flowing into the street from the Bulstake Stream.

Peter Rawcliffe then spoke about:

Events and work completed in 2010
January: Network Rail remove redundant level crossing bridge at Redbridge.

March: publication and launch meeting of our Building on Success, Suggestions for medium-term measures to further reduce the risk of flooding in Oxford and the surrounding area. See list of attendees at the launch meeting here.

EA clear Hinksey Stream from North Hinksey to Redbridge.

November: meeting with EA’s Director of Operations; Head of Operations; and Thames Regional Director, and others.

Maintaining and developing our website.

Still in progress, but now heading for a successful conclusion:

  • Duke and Earl Street – see above.
  • Lamarsh Road as a flood route, to which we have made an important contribution – initiating the idea (March 2010), pressing the case and helping with the assessment (Oct 2010). The City, County, EA and developers Kingerlee have all played active roles and we are together on course to a successful conclusion. The result will:
    • Benefit existing and new businesses in and off Lamarsh Road.
    • Benefit residents who reach their houses via Lamarsh Road – Oriel Mews, and in future Rewley Press and Kingerlee housing.
    • Divert water away from proposed Earl Street pedestrian hump. The level in Lamarsh will be just lower than the height of the hump plus one sandbag.

2011: in the pipeline already:

  • Willow Walk, North Hinksey – culverts are to be installed to move water more quickly down the floodplain. Suggested by OFA and taken up by  EA and City.
  • Hinksey Stream, further clearance at Redbridge (EA).
  • Network Rail, clearing several waterways and renewing weir north of Redbridge.
  • Lamarsh Road – see above.
  • Culvert through causeway at South Hinksey (Vale of White Horse).

OFA’s top 4 for action in 2011:

John Mastroddi described the issues at Munday’s and Stroud’s bridges at Redbridge. See Building on Success.

Richard Thurston spoke about two things that would help Osney Island:

  • West Street Pumping Station: upgrade the current pumping station by installing a pump of greater capacity.
    Redesign the outfall so that the water is discharged with the flow of water in Osney Stream.
  • Build a new spur from the Bridge Street extension road drain via the passageway into the Environment Agency’s land, where a new sump be created. From the sump, excess water would be pumped into the weir pool.

obstructions weir sluice castle mill stream

Mike Hamblett showed us the poor state of the weirs and sluices on Castle Mill Stream – the photo speaks for itself.  Castle Mill Stream has potential to carry more water than it does, having relatively high gradients. We suggest these structures be mapped and listed and their condition and operation be examined, as a first step to improving them.

Mike then spoke of the broken down state of about 500 m of the west Thames bank above Tumbling Bay. See Building on Success. Water pours out of the river here when river levels are high, further damaging the bank in the process. We are concerned that this water may make flooding worse in the Botley Road area. The effect of the water leaving the river, compared to what would happen if it did not do so, should be investigated. As the breakdown worsens with each episode, one can expect that before long the entire bank over the 500m length will be affected – that situation should also be looked at. The bank could be repaired fairly easily.

Resilience and insurance

Nick Hills stressed that the time to install flood resilience measures in your house is when work is being done anyway – including of course after a flood. And that people should make sure this happens, not leave it to insurers – they tend to put back what was there before, chipboard floors and carpets included. Ask that the money be made available to you to spend as you see fit – see articles by Peter Rawcliffe and Nick Hills.

Lamarsh Road scheme – almost there!

24 November 2010

On 9 November Oxford City Central & South West Area Committee agreed to reallocate the money for “public art” that Kingerlee are contributing as part of their development, to the flood relief measures that we have been advocating in Lamarsh Road instead. The suggestion to do so came from Kingerlee (see post of 15 October) and has doubled the amount of money available for flood relief from Kingerlee. The necessary work will now be done. Kingerlee will do the work themselves while they are doing their own work anyway, so overheads will be minimised. After further discussions between Kingerlee, the City and the County, Kingerlee have instructed their engineers to prepare a scheme and hope to start work early in the New Year.
THESE ARE THE (ALMOST) FINAL DEVELOPMENTS IN A CAMPAIGN WHICH HAS OCCUPIED MUCH OF OUR EFFORT FOR THE PAST YEAR AND MORE. THE OUTCOME IS SUCCESS. Many other people, from City, County and the Environment Agency, and of course Kingerlee, have also worked very hard to achieve this result. MP Nicola Blackwood has been interested and supportive.

Annual Public Meeting of the Oxford Area Flood Partnership (OAFP)

27 October 2010

Annual Public Meeting of the Oxford Area Flood Partnership (OAFP). (This is not OFA.)

We attended and asked about:

  • Lamarsh Road as a flood route (we presented our report – October 2010)
  • The railway track at Redbridge
  • Munday’s underbridge at Redbridge
  • Why OAFP meetings are held in camera
  • Work that we have been pushing for on Osney Island.

Continue reading

Meetings re Lamarsh Road as a flood route

15 October 2010

Brian Durham and Peter Rawcliffe, both of OFA, met David Coates, Planning Director of Kingerlee, at their Lamarsh Road site. We looked at the site and discussed things in the light of OFA’s report on Lamarsh Road, October 2010, which can be downloaded here.

We all three went on to meet Barry Russell and Selena Peters of the Environment Agency and Paul Kirkley of Oxford City Environmental Development.

Selena Peters presented the results of computer modelling of flood flows, now extended from 1 in 25 year flood levels to 1 in 50: even at 1 in 50, when defences are overtopped at Bullstake Close and Earl Street, the model suggests there is no further benefit to Earl or Duke Streets from relieving any dam effect at Lamarsh Road by lowering it (but see below).

Brian Durham of the Alliance spoke about the important findings described in his report, including those discovered by talking to Jewsons and the Army Surplus shop in Lamarsh Road.

Paul Kirkley (City) gave further information about various matters, including that culvert pipes from an adjacent site obstruct a drain beyond the far end of the Kingerlee site.

David Coates (Kingerlee) suggested how to move things forward, including that S106 moneys payable by Kingerlee and allocated for “art” could perhaps be made available for flood defences instead. This would be in addition to sums that Kingerlee is already contributing. OFA strongly supported this suggestion.

There is now a much better understanding of what might be useful; Brian Durham has shown that “less will be enough”, and it looks more likely to be affordable. In a nutshell, a limited lowering of about 8 cm at the south end to the west would bring significant benefit. The County have apparently agreed to do about 5 cm in an even smaller area, the hope now is to increase that.

The plan agreed at the meeting is that the EA will, with Paul Kirkley, produce specific proposals as to what is ‘required’. That they will then engage with the County road people to obtain as specific and detailed costings as are possible at this stage (unknowns e.g. services may make it less than exact).

Funding might include use of the £25,000 that Kingerlee has contributed, a similar amount (?£20K) that Rewley Press developers are putting in. The possible reallocation of the “art” funding is mentioned above.

Whether Earl and Duke Streets will be helped depends on how reliable the model proves in practice, but the proposed work in Lamarsh Road cannot make them worse. Previously flooded properties in Lamarsh Road will benefit. Kingerlee’s site, Oriel Mews and the Rewley Press residential development will benefit from improved vehicular and pedestrian access during floods.

Botley Road area meeting

13 September 2010

We met with representatives of the EA, and both Oxford City and Oxfordshire County Councils last Friday, 10 September. We were shown the latest results from the computer model of flooding in the Botley Road area, developed by the EA in collaboration with City Council engineers. The effect of various interventions has been investigated.

The model suggests:
1. The existing Bullstake Close barrier, erected by the City Council to protect its properties there, will provide flood protection to properties to the south of the Botley Road at least to a 1 in 25 year flood level (the worst of the floods in recent years, in 2007, was about that level).

2. Creating a road hump at the north end of  Earl Street would protect the street from inundation (ie becoming a river) up to the same level. This will be done, by the County Council. The street will have to be closed to traffic throughout the work – the County will be consulting with residents about this. While there will inevitably be temporary inconvenience while the work is done, the benefits in flood risk reduction will be very well worth it.

3. A barrier across the alleyway in Duke Street would give further protection to Duke and Earl Streets, from floodwater coming from the Bulstake Stream behind the houses on the east side of Duke Street. The County hope to do this work, subject to discussions and agreement with the owners of the adjacent houses.

4. Floodwater would still be able to enter the rear of properties on the east of Duke Street direct from Bulstake Stream as it has in the past. – and not only flood those houses but then move on to flood people on the other side of the street and in Earl Street. This could be remedied in various ways – ranging from a permanent earth bank (bund) along the gardens of all the houses backing onto the stream, to individual house measures such as flood doors and airbrick covers, to sandbags. Please note that residents will be fully consulted about the options and that action can and will only be taken if people agree. It seems unlikely that everyone would agree to a garden barrier (and it would have to be in every garden without a break for it to work of course) even though this would give the best protection. Individual house measures on the other hand might a very different matter as they would protect the house itself first and foremost. It is possible (not certain) that money may become available to help householders buy the necessary protection. There’d need to be a community plan for placing protection if people were away or for any other reason unable to do it themselves when flooding threatened.
OFA will be working with the EA and the CIty on this. At last Friday’s meeting we suggested that maybe the EA come to our OFA annual Public Meeting – which will probably be in November – to present the options to residents and get their reactions. This isn’t decided on yet but may well happen.

5. Lowering the highest part of Lamarsh Road would not confer further benefit in a 1 in 25 year or smaller flood. Beyond that it is not clear how much benefit it might provide. The cost of lowering is now said to be £500,000. We are sceptical about that remarkably round sum: it has gone up and down like a yo-yo over the weeks – as low as £200,000 not long ago. OFA believes that there should be further consideration, that we should perhaps talk directly to Kingerlee, and that we should try to ensure that roads are built so as to allow the work to be done later even if it is not done now.

Reducing the Risk of Flooding of Earl and Duke Streets and Bullstake Close

21 July 2010

The following is being circulated as a flyer to residents of Earl and Duke Streets and Bullstake Close. Links are being emailed to our supporters.

Update from the Oxford Flood Alliance (OFA) on Progress in Reducing the Risk of Flooding of Earl and Duke Streets and Bullstake Close; July 2010

It is 3 years since the severe floods of July 2007, so it seems a good moment to report on progress made since then, but also to highlight a further project that requires the most urgent and determined action. OFA has worked hard, since November 2007, to make sure things have been done and we continue to do so.

How these streets flood

Earl and Duke Streets flood by a combination of water coming up through the ground, water coming up through the drains and water which arrives over the surface. Bullstake Close floods by surface water.

What has been done

Bullstake Close:
Oxford City Council built a wall around part of Bullstake Close to protect it from surface water arriving from north of the Botley Road. DONE, 2009

Earl and Duke Streets:
the Bullstake Close barrier will hold back flood water until it is overtopped. DONE, 2009

Thames Water and Oxford City have installed special valves which, when flooding threatens, can be closed to isolate the drains in Earl and Duke Streets from other local drains, taking the pressure off them. DONE, 2009

there are permanent pumps in Earl Street, installed by Oxford City (?) to pump accumulating floodwater away into the floodplain to the south. DONE, 2004

the gullies in the street have been altered so that that all now feed into the pumps, so enabling the pumps to work more effectively. DONE, 2010

a culvert has been installed by Oxfordshire County Council at the end of Duke Street and out into the floodplain to the south. This is to provide a route out for water running down Earl Street from the Botley Road. To streamline the flow of this water the pavement has been rounded off where Earl Street connects via an alley into Duke Street. DONE, 2009

a road and pavement hump built by Oxfordshire County Council across the Botley Road end of Earl Street to stop floodwater flowing down the street (until it is overtopped). PLANNED FOR 2010

a barrier across the path leading into the southern end of Duke Street to prevent water flowing into the street from Bulstake Stream which it has done in the past. UNDER CONSIDERATION

the City Council has suggested that residents at the southern end of the east side of Duke Street might like to consider property level defences for their houses. Property level defences means floodgates for doors and sealing off airbricks. If everyone got together and did this, this would make a barrier to stop water flowing into and through these houses from Bulstake Stream. This would directly protect the individual houses and, indirectly, their neighbours. It is possible that grants may be available to help with the costs of this, though current cuts mean this is uncertain. RESIDENTS WILL DECIDE WHETHER THEY ARE INTERESTED.

last but not least, providing an alternative route for floodwater in the Botley Road to get away downstream to the south. In the past it has flowed down Earl Street like a river. The alternative route proposed is down Lamarsh RoadUNDER ACTIVE AND URGENT CONSIDERATION.

Our response to the EA on their proposals for further short-term measures for Oxford

14 July 2010

Oxford Short Term Measures 2

Thank you for asking for comments on your proposals. Here are ours:

Willow Walk – fine.

Hinksey Stream – welcome. We hope the work will include removal of the trees which seem to be actually in the stream upstream of the bridge.

Wareham Stream – we think that it is hardly worth maintaining the stream if the sluices are not renovated. Both inlets from Castle Mill Stream are useless, and the sluice at the brewery is not operated. Therefore in a flood there is not much flow.

Other ideas
We are disappointed that other, more ambitious, options were not pursued. We believe there are many things in our document “Building on Success – Suggestions for medium-term measures to further reduce the risk of flooding in Oxford and the surrounding area” launched this March, which would be well worth doing and we look forward to discussing them with you soon.

Lamarsh Road
In the meantime, our top priority remains to achieve a new flood route via Lamarsh Road in the now very limited time available. We understand that you share this wish and are working hard at it, which we appreciate. For now we would rather achieve this than anything else, as we made plain at our meeting in South Hinksey in March. If funding is not possible in any other way then we think money should be diverted from one or other of the Short Term Measures 2. They could be done later, whereas Lamarsh can’t.
It would be dreadful to fail to implement the Lamarsh scheme. Doing so, on the other hand, would be a great success and improve the lot of many people who have been flooded repeatedly and remain at high risk.

Oxford Flood Alliance, July 13th 2010.

Earl and Duke Streets, Lamarsh Road – and the role of the County Council

20 June 2010

The City and the Environment Agency have worked hard on the technical assessment of feasibility, which they have completed. This shows that our plan would work.

We now urgently need detailed costings of the work required to lower the southern end of Lamarsh Rd. We are looking to the County to provide these. At our meeting in South Hinksey on 24 March 2010, attended by senior representatives from all the agencies concerned, the County Council made a commitment to assess what services lie below that part of the road and to prepare detailed costings of the work that would be needed. This might include digging a test hole. So far as we can discover this has not been done in the intervening 11+ weeks. Considering the urgency, this is extremely disappointing.

We hope that this work will now be done with the utmost urgency.

Go to Library to download our Lamarsh Road proposal and how it would bring relief to the many people whose homes have suffered repeated flooding.

Nicola Blackwood MP visits Earl Street

10 June 2010

Nick Hills, Richard Thurston and Peter Rawcliffe of OFA met our new MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, Nicola Blackwood, in Lamarsh Road on Saturday 5 June. Nicola came to see and hear for herself about the severe and recurrent flooding of about 60 homes in Earl and Duke Streets, the reasons for it – and what OFA has proposed to reduce the risks of further flooding here.

We are delighted that Nicola has said she will support this initiative which could bring relief to many households. She is writing to the Environment Agency asking for details of the cost/benefit analysis, which is currently under way, as soon as it is completed. She will then help us to press for funding and urgent action with the three authorities involved: City, County and Environment Agency.