By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
Around £76 million is being spent on new flood defences for Mansfield after it was identified as being among the most at-risk communities in Nottinghamshire – with almost 1,000 people in homes classed as “high risk”.
New drainage ponds and green spaces will be brought in across parts of the town to protect it.
Pavement surfaces will also be improved to better absorb water as the last defence against “increasingly ineffective” drainage networks.
The project is among the first of its kind in the country.
The £76 million funding forms part of a pilot scheme by the Water Services Regulation Authority (OFWAT) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and has been secured by Severn Trent Water.
The work will be coordinated alongside Nottinghamshire County Council as part of plans to mitigate the risks of climate change.
Mansfield is deemed as the most at risk from surface water flooding of all towns in Notts.
Council documents say around 30,600 people in Mansfield live in a flood risk area, with 863 people in the high-risk category.
Within the flood risk areas are also hospitals, schools and colleges, retail parks and community centres, as well as railway lines, roads, open spaces and monuments.
There are fears the town’s drain network could become a victim of climate change in years to come.
But by introducing natural solutions such as the planting of trees and drainage ponds, it is hoped that the risks could be mitigated and homes will be protected.
Sue Jaques, flood risk manager at the county council, brought a report to the transport and environment committee on Monday (July 19).
She said: “It’s an incredible level of investment and not only will it provide sustainable opportunities to reduce flooding, but most importantly it will help to improve the quality of the environment for the local people of Mansfield.
“The learning from this project will really help us to inform our offer across the county and to lessen the impact of those that have been seriously impacted and devastated by flooding in the past.”
Councillor Mike Adams (Con) represents Carlton East and welcomed the funding.
He said: “It’s one of those incredible moments where this could completely turn around an area, enabling it to protect its residents.
“Living [myself] in an area that has suffered from occasional flooding, I know of residents who fear going on holiday over what they’ll find when they get back.
“These sorts of things improve peoples’ wellbeing because they allow them to relax, but the physical loss of property and the damage it causes to local infrastructure cannot be underestimated.”
To unlock the whole £76 million funding, a wider £9.8 million – or 11 per cent of the overall cost – must be found from third-party contributions.
Once the 44-month pilot project comes to an end in 2025, the methods could be used in other flood-hit areas of Nottinghamshire.