LONG-awaited plans to protect Kendal from a devastating flood like 2015 have landed on planners' desks on the eve of Storm Desmond's third anniversary.

The Environment Agency has submitted detailed plans to South Lakeland District Council for the first part of the £30 million-plus scheme.

As well as flood gates and miles of flood walls along the River Kent through town, phase one also features a pumping station at Gooseholme.

In another major step forward, a bid for £5.34 million European Regional Development Fund cash to help pay for the project has also just been made.

The progress has been greeted by flood campaigners such as Maggie Mason, chair of North East Kendal Flood Action Group, which covers Sandylands estate, badly flood hit in December 2015.

"The young people of Kendal deserve a town that's safe to live in," said retired town planner Mrs Mason, who is also on the committee of the South Lakes Flood Action Group.

"This is the one shot we will get to get money from the government to give Kendal some sort of protection.

"We very much support this and hope other residents of Kendal who may be slightly inconvenienced will appreciate that all the people who flooded desperately need these defences."

Stewart Mounsey, Cumbria flood risk manager for the Environment Agency, said important "pieces of the puzzle" were coming together. If everything went to plan, spadework would start in spring or early summer 2019.

"One of the things we want to do fairly quickly is provide as much protection as we can to Kendal," he told the Gazette. "The sequence we will do that in ensures we do that."

Talks are taking place between the agency, contractors and business owners at locations such as Mintsfeet Industrial Estate, to ensure work can proceed quickly and smoothly. The goodwill of residents and business people was "much appreciated", said Mr Mounsey, with local firms offering to site contractors' cabins and machinery on their land, as well as supply electricity and water.

He said Kendalians' views had influenced the finalised plans, such as flood walls proposed near Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Kendal Parish Church now taken out. Instead, measures such as door and air-brick flood barriers will be incorporated.

Meanwhile, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said it was "great news" the plans had been submitted to SLDC.

"For the peace of mind of residents who were left devastated now nearly three years ago, it’s important now the plans are in place that the Environment Agency is given the resources to get on with it," he told the Gazette.

“It’s really positive to see the council applying for further money for our flood-hit communities and I will be writing to them to send my full support.”

l People seeking practical or emotional support about flooding can contact North East Kendal Flood Action Group via the Facebook page.