BUILDING improved flood defences along the Rivers Kent and Mint and boosting water storage capacity in parts of Stock Beck could help prevent a repeat of the devastating deluge that hit Kendal in December.

Approximately 2,150 properties in Kendal suffered significant flooding during Storm Desmond between December 5 and 6 last year – the worst floods in the town for half a century. The majority of properties affected were in the Mintsfeet and Sandylands areas of Kendal.


This week residents had the opportunity to view and comment on the Environment Agency’s draft Flood Investigation Report for Kendal.

And many called for urgent action to prevent any future flooding.

Kendal Flood Forum, held at the town hall, was packed as people voiced their concerns, offered insights into flooding issues and suggested changes to the draft.

Among questions asked were about the wisdom of building houses on land that had previously suffered flooding, the challenges of the forthcoming winter and plans for the future.

Before the draft report was presented, the participants had the opportunity to meet representatives from agencies including Cumbria County Council, United Utilities and the Red Cross.

The report says that in Sandylands, initial flooding from Stock Beck occurred as the capacity of the underground culverted watercourse system was exceeded, followed by overtopping of the Stock Beck Flood Storage Basin.

The main source of flooding in the Mintsfeet area happened when water overtopped the left banks of the Rivers Mint and Kent. This caused significant flooding to commercial properties in the Lake District Business Park.

Overland flood flows then continued due south across playing fields before flooding the commercial and residential properties located between the Oxenholme-Windermere railway line and the A6 Shap Road, including the Mintsfeet Industrial Estate.

Flooding then spread east towards Appleby Road and combined with flow from Stock Beck flooded properties in the road and on Sandylands Road,

Flood water then continues to flow through Longpool where further flooding occurred in the Ann Street and Castle Street areas.

Maggie Mason, the chair of the North East Kendal Flood Action Group believes that there are still questions that remain unanswered following the report.

"We believe that they need to be clearer about two issues for Kendal," she said. "The management of Kendal’s old drinking water supply, still collected on Benson Knott and Hay Fell and now flowing into the Stock Beck system; and the impacts of new housing development on flooding."

However, a spokesperson for the Environment Agency said that the report is 'not exhaustive' but rather a 'living document that will develop over time'.

"Twenty-four million pounds has been earmarked to develop a flood risk management scheme in Kendal and as part of our work to develop options we will investigate how we may be able to use Birds Park Reservoir to temporarily store flood water in the Stock Beck catchment," it said.

The report, prepared by the Environment Agency and Cumbria County Council, highlights possible options to reduce flood risk in the future.

They include:

L Investigating options to improve flood storage in the upstream reaches of the Stock Beck catchment.

L Improving the flood flow capacity of Stock Beck when it flows underground into culverts.

L Look at options for upstream flood storage on the Mint, Sprint and Kent.

L Increasing channel capacity and building flood defences along the entire reach of the Kent and Mint rivers from Mint Bridge Road in the north to Kendal Wastewater Treatment Works in the south.

L Assess the flood flow capacity of road and railway bridges in Kendal and identify where improvements can be made.

L Identifying solutions to mitigate surface water flood risk in high risk areas.

L Review the performance of the existing drainage and sewerage systems to better understand where improvements are required.

However, some of those at the forum felt that, due to multiple agency involvement, the vastness of the area that was flooded and the fact that data is still being collected, the plans presented by the Environment Agency were too abstract

“It turned out to be a shouting match. You don’t really get anywhere by shouting,” Dan Jones, who was in the audience, said after the meeting. “Overall I think we need to hear more of something that is being done and what is going to happen this winter.”

Mrs Mason, who lives on Grizedale Avenue and is chairman of the North East Kendal Flood Action Group, used to be a town planner for Cumbria County Council and agrees with Mr Jones' assessment.

"The group believes that many organisations must be completely open about what went wrong," she said. "Why, for example, did huge volumes of water pour out of the Impact Housing and Russell Armer developments off Rydal Road, and how and when are the problems going to be corrected?"

Mrs Mason insists that she does not wish to place blame on any organisation, but that she feels more needs to be done to ensure that Kendal is better protected in the future.

The Environment Agency has said that each local authority prepares a strategic flood risk assessment that sets out flood risk. It says that local planning authorities use this information, and the advice the Environment Agency provides, to identify land for different types of development to determine individual planning applications.

"In the majority of such planning applications, our flood risk advice is taken on board by Local Planning Authorities," the EA spokesperson said. "Last year over 98 per cent of applications for new homes were decided in line with Environment Agency advice."

Sally Armstrong, chair of the Sandylands Residents' Association, agrees that more needs to be done to ensure that the town is prepared for future flooding. "Many children are desperately worried every time it rains," she said. "We will all only feel secure in our homes if we get honest answers and quick action to correct any unwise decisions in the past."