KENDAL's long-awaited multi-million pound flood scheme could be delayed.

Cumbria County Council chiefs have accepted a request from The Open Spaces Society (OSS), who have claimed part of the River Kent's bed should be classed as common land.

The application was based on a scheme drawn up in 1910, when Gooseholme was still an island.

However, all this was changed in the 1960s and 70s when the Kendal Flood Relief scheme was built. The old east channel was filled in, shingle banks were removed from the new course and a swap of some old common land for new was agreed by the OSS, Kendal Council and Westmorland County.

However, in June 2019 the OSS applied again claiming all the land that it had agreed to swap in 1972.

This land is underwater and inaccessible to the public.

The move has angered backers of the project, which was created after the devastation caused by Storm Desmond in 2015.

The £72m scheme is expected to protect hundreds of homes and businesses from further flooding.

An OSS spokesman said the 'land was omitted in a tidying up exercise when common land was created and therefore should not be used for today’s flood defence project.'

But Cllr Doug Rathbone, chair of the town council’s planning committee said: “It’s important that this issue is resolved so the town can move on from the tragedy of the 2015 floods. This merely delays protecting the people of Kendal via the agreed plans for flood relief. This is just as we’re coming to another winter without the work having started; it’s a delaying tactic which we were and are opposed to as a committee and a council. “

Kendal resident Ian Kell, secretary of the Benson and Sandes Flood Action Group, said: "The legalese used is designed to put us off from asking questions. I fear that the OSS will object to the land being used for flood defences and the small number of individuals in the area who still want to overturn the flood defence scheme will be cheering."

Cumbria County Council members voted to allow the application from the OSS which will register the extra land as common land and therefore potentially delay the flood scheme.

Councillor Shirley Evans said: “Soon we will have waited five years for the scheme. Residents are fearful every time we get heavy rain.

"People who oppose the scheme must realise the consequences of their actions.

"Kendal could flood again before our defences are built.”

David Evans, a former district councillor for the area, said: "It is wrong to overturn previous legal agreements. It is like the society saying ‘We want it all and we want it now’.