Plans approved to cut flood risk to hundreds of vulnerable properties

Proposals to create a flood storage area on the River Foss north of Strensall have been approved by York City Council’s planning committee.

A new flood storage area will better protect 490 vulnerable homes between Strensall and The Groves area of York from flooding.

This scheme, in the rural area 2km north of Strensall, will also reduce flood risk to key transport routes.

The purpose of the storage area is to help reduce peak flows in the river, therefore reducing flooding downstream.

During heavy rain the structure fills up, temporarily holding back flood water and reducing the risk to properties along the Foss Corridor, towards York city centre.

Once the flood has passed the water in the storage area will subside.

Project manager Richard Lever, from the Environment Agency, said: “These areas are not like reservoirs and do not store water permanently. They are designed to be dry in normal weather conditions and only fill up for short periods during large flood events.

“Unlike other physical flood defences, a flood storage area can be built at some distance from the communities they protect and therefore have less impact than building formal defences.”

He noted that currently there are no flood defences along the Foss Corridor and a flood storage area is the only viable option.

Lever added: “As well as reducing flood risk, the storage area will also have environmental benefits.

“This scheme will facilitate the growth of valuable wetland habitat, create space for local wildlife and help improve water quality downstream.

“Materials for building the embankment for the storage area will be taken from within the site, creating pits which fill with water and act as permanent shallow ponds.”

The planning application for the flood storage area will also need to be approved by Ryedale District Council as it falls with the boundary of both councils.

Following the severe flooding in York in Dec 2015, where over 600 properties were flooded, central Government committed £45m to fund projects to better protect properties in the city.

Environment Agency flood schemes protected almost 130,000 properties during the winter 2019/20 flooding, even though water levels were higher in some places than the floods of 2007 when 55,000 properties flooded.