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Hebden Bridge flood alleviation scheme delayed a year

It is not expected it will be completed before summer 2024.

A flood alleviation scheme for a Calderdale town should get under way next summer – and will take a year longer than originally envisaged to complete.

This is because factors taken into consideration following meetings with stakeholders indicate a trade-off between time taken to complete the scheme and less disruption for the community and businesses in Hebden Bridge.

Calderdale Flood Recovery and Resilience Programme Board heard a key message which had resonated throughout the scheme’s design phase was the importance of tourism to the town – which flooded badly in 2012, 2015 and in February this year – and concerns about how major construction would disrupt this.

Accordingly, engineering contractors BAM Nuttall have been challenged to develop a programme which will minimise disruption.

So with a starting date of summer 2021, it is not expected it will be completed before summer 2024, said Environment Agency representatives for the Hebden Bridge scheme, Christian Merriman, an extra year.

It will mean phased work for a major surface water drainage scheme along Hebden Bridge’s main roads and limiting the extent of work that can be carried out in any one area at any one time.

Delivering multiple works in any one area at one time would lead to unacceptable disruption, said Mr Merriman.

Coun Scott Patient (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said it was important partners got the project right and warned if they did not: “Hebden Bridge is great but there are some big personalities there that will be all over you, it will be a huge challenge on your part.”

Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said the increased length of time was not ideal but perhaps necessary.

“I’m disappointed that the work is going to take longer.

“But on balance, in terms of the local economy, given the impact of the flooding and COVID-19 on the local retail and hospitality sector, if it allows more businesses to stay open in that period and protects more life in the town, I guess that is the price that has to be paid,” she said.

Given the timescale and threat of flooding, it was essential protection was in place throughout, said Coun Scullion.

“If you are working for three and a half years and given, because of climate change, potential flooding events, I would like some reassurance temporary defences will be in place before work starts,” she said.

Mr Merriman said work would need to be cautious around some areas, including Bridge Gate and Old Gate.

“There will be a need for temporary defences and we will make sure all elements of the scheme have temporary defences,” he said.

Coun James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley) said he hoped there would be minimal impact on major events which drew people into the town, including the Handmade Parade and the Vintage Car Rally, and suggested consulting closely with Hebden Royd Town Council around such issues.

Mr Merriman said the key stakeholder group included organisations including the business forum, council and community wardens who could all engage with the planning.

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