CAMPAIGN groups have 'deplored' the decision to allow flood-defence works on New Road Common in the heart of Kendal. 

The application was for a linear flood-defence wall, three floodgates and a pedestrian gate, surface-water drainage, and the re-profiling of the slipway to the River Kent.  There are also temporary works comprising safety hoarding along the full length of the common. 

Because the works were on common land they needed the consent of the environment secretary under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006. 

The Environment Agency said that the impact of the flood-defence work 'was outweighed by the public benefit'.

The Open Spaces Society, Friends of the Lake District, and Kendal Civic Society objected to the application because they argued that the works would damage the riverside common, and make public access more difficult.  

They said that the Environment Agency should have offered replacement land in exchange, under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006, but this was rejected. 

Commenting on the decision, Ian Brodie for the Open Spaces Society said: ‘We deeply regret the further significant erosion of open green spaces adjacent to the river.  While we understand the consideration of flood remediation schemes for Kendal, there are other ways of dealing with the defences without such a great and intrusive impact on people who want to enjoy the riverbank."

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: "When the Kent Catchment Flood Risk Management Scheme is complete, which includes the flood defences in Kendal, it will improve flood protection for over 1,400 homes and 1,100 businesses. While the planning inspector did recognise the work at Gooseholme Park would have some impacts on the common, she considered these were outweighed by the public benefit.

“We understand the balance between ensuring the town is protected from the devastation of flooding while also maintaining public facilities and access to nature which is why the improved design and landscape plans were shaped by feedback from the community. The importance of the character and heritage of Kendal town centre has played a key role in developing the proposals.

“We are committed to ensuring the community is updated and involved in Kendal Flood Scheme as it progresses. Residents can visit the Flood Scheme Information Hub in the town to find out more and ask questions about the scheme.”